Thrivous Nootropics for Cognitive Enhancement

TransVision Thursday Keynote Presentation (Ray Kurzweil) Notes

Ray Kurzweil mentioned that he usually has to explain accelerating change. This group is different. Why do some people get it quick, and why do some resist? It might be attacking their coping mechanisms. Some rationalize death. A key implication of technology is exponential growth. Short term linear looks the same, but long term there are profound differences. Few persons understand the implications of exponential growth. Two centuries ago no one recognized this because things have changed. Failure is not failure. Advice to entrepreneurs is to persist. Timing is also important. Many techs fail by being too early or too late. The application of ai is gradually becoming less narrow. We are adopting technologies more quickly. Technological evolution took up exponential growth on smooth line from biological evolution. We are moving through epochs of technology. Maybe there was an intelligent designer, as explored with James Gardner. The fifth epoch is beginning, as the merger of biology and human technology. Exponential growth actually comes in S curves, which don't last forever. However, whan a particular tech runs out of steam, it produces pressure to produce the next innovation. There may indeed be limits, but they're not very limiting. Moore's law has endured throughout the entire 20th century, across world wars and multiple computing architectures. Power for human brain functional simulation in super computers appears to be between 2010 and 2015. Processor speeds are increasing exponentially, and costs are falling exponentially. DNA sequencing cost is decreasing exponentially. DNA sequence data stored is increasing exponentially. Internet hosts are increasing exponentially. We're shrinking tech exponentially. Reverse engineering the brain also requires advances in software. Templates of intelligence come from reverse engineering the human brain, AI research, research of human thought, etc. All expand the AI toolkit. Scanning of the human brain is also advancing exponentially. The brain appears neither to be simple nor unmanageably complex. The brain is a fractal of the genome. A little bit of data can expand to great amounts of data. AI community keeps shortening consensus predicted time required, getting closer to kurzweil's prediction of 2029. The portion of a product or service's value that is information is asymptoting toward 100 percent. Radical life extension will not require a vote, just like the internet did not require a vote. It all happens a step at a time. Ecommerce advancing exponentially. Education expenditures increasing exponentially. Machines are improving in speech recognition, and pattern recognition generally. Humans can only consider a couple dozen variables, and computers can consider thousands. Neural nets and genetic algorithms are attempting to model human thought patterns. Artificial intelligence is real intelligence that is not yet so subtle as human intelligence. Transhumanism is about transcending human limitations. We're the only species that does that. We seek to go beyond our limitations. In 2010 computers will disappear. They'll be very small. There will be ubiquitous high bandwidth. It will be embedded in clothes and common objects. There will be full immersion virtual reality and augmented reality. Computers are doing more and more things that some thought only humans could do. The equivalent of human brain computation will cost 1 dollar. Reverse engineering will be complete. Computers pass the turing test. Nonbiological intelligence combines with biological and continue to advance exponentially. Nanobots will provide neural implants that are nonsurgical, and expansion of human intelligence. Average life expectancy is extending. It was only 48 years in 1900, and 37 in 1800. We're now at 78 years average. According to models, we'll be adding more than one year every year to our lives in less than 15 years. Decentralized self-organizing systems are inherently stable. New system called "world wide mesh" is even more like that than internet. GNR promise and peril is confronting us. The G, genetics, is facing us today. The N, nanotechnology, is coming in 20 years, and the R, robotics and strong AI, after that.

TransVision Thursday Keynote Presentation (William Shatner) Notes

William Shatner began with the star trek intro about "space, the final frontier." He spoke about the importance of innovation and imagination. Keep exploring. The wta is very trek-like. It holds that we cannot only survive, but thrive. The refusal to accept the status quo has moved us forward. There is a loss of predictibility. Change is about exploring. Demand innovation from ourselves and others. No one gets change better than Transhumanists. We turn whispy ideas into concrete reality. Actors should not get the attention. Rather, the persons doing the work should get attention. Why should we care about science fiction? We are transforming star trek ideas into real working concepts. Imagination can change the world. Art is not limitating life. Life is imitating art. We've been willing to make mistakes. We are willing to look stupid. If we don't make mistakes, how do we learn? If we don't learn, how do we achieve? Children learn because they make mistakes and continue. We shouldn't make the same mistakes -- that's insanity. We can't let fear of failure paralyze us. Every innovation was preceded by mistakes. Never blindly take orders. Be curious. Why? Why? We should ask ourselves, our politicians, our bosses. Why? GPS systems don't like when things move, because they become clueless. The world changes. As we follow the gps, we wonder: who is in charge? I, the human, am following the machine? What makes it so smart? We have a love-hate dilemma with our machines. There's too much to know and there are no know-it-alls. The reasonable man adapts to the world. The unreasonable man adapts the world to him. Progress depends on the unreasonable man. We should all be a bit unreasonable. If we were not curious, where would we be? Hunter gatherers have transformed themselves into today's amazing world. if we were not unreasonable, we would still be cave bound or dead. 1) Look stupid. 2) Be curious. 3) Use discomfort to breed brilliance. Things are moving so fast that we don't know what tomorrow will bring. Common news headlines reveal rapid scorching change. We'll be pushed out of our comfort zones. If you don't like change, you'll like irrelevance even less. Adapt or die. We seem to be a species adapted for adaptibility. That is the only thing that seems to be different between us and extinct creatures. We'll take some lumps as the future comes, but if we do nothing, we'll be selected out. We are the descendents of the smaller apes, not the larger. Why did the smaller succeed? They fashioned the first tool as a knife. They used flint to make fire. Teeth in the bigger apes took thousands of years, whereas the tools came relatively quickly to the smaller ape. Invention itself arose from this. It brought both solutions and problems. It has brought all of our contemporary challenges. What about all the wild ideas of the future? We have big problems coming, and we're struggling to keep up. It is a race of education. That's what this convention is about. There is reason to be optimistic. Regardless of our position on intelligentdesign, maybe the time has come for we humans to practice some intelligent desgin of our own? If we don't, we're in for trouble.

TransVision Thursday Afternoon Session II Notes

Natasha Vita-More spoke on the future of the human body. The posthuman . . . Is it disembodied, a cyborg, an aggregate of such things? The impending future human is the posthuman. There are commonalities to major visions of the future human. Architecture is art, a monument to humanity's endurance. At each new phase in architecture, we look at how to restructure for endurance. We lack a design for ensuring long term existence. Disembodied information: posthuman as an information pattern. The concept of disembodied info is suspect because all info requires substrate. Deconstructed DNA: posthuman as modified biological basis of life. Some have argued that this would have dangerous results, removing a biological basis for ethics. Enhancements are desired, and who should be allowed to withhold them based on a judgment that it is not a cure. Prosthetic impulse: posthuman as a cyborg. The material body has always been prosthetic, according to some. Replacing and enhancing body parts has been increasing for millenia. Science-fiction man/machine: the posthuman as a another form of cyborg. Films tend to have negative dystopian views of the future, with a techno-totalitarianism flavor. Some are looking at the cyborg as its own gender. Uninterrupted evolution: posthuman as matter in motion. Use of regular human body enhances emotional recognition of continued existence. This is the future human! It is enhancing both individual and species well-being. We are adapting to support and sustain well-being. Our human nature is complex, changing and growing. The bottom line is continued existence. Concern is not the architecture of human design, but what is lacking. Flexibility, adaptibility, endurance, etc. We are distributed embodied information. If the artificial is not better than the natural then to what end are all the arts of life? Conclusion is that the best way to view posthumans is by looking at both the community and the individual. We won't have less spirituality. Philippe Van Nedervelde spoke about responsible nanotech. There are serious challenges that lead some to think we're doomed unless we can spread beyond earth. The lifeboat foundation is about saving humanity from existential risks. Existential threats are the problem. The earth is at stake. We are in danger. A perfect storm is coming. Death is what happens while you are making other plans. Be prepared. All we hold dear is at stake. To get a shot at longevity, we'll need to survive the next decades. What are the horrors? There are cosmic and manmade risks. Asteroids may strike. Gamma ray bursts or mega flares from sun could hit. A rogue black hole may hit. Unfriendly aliens may come. Global thermonuclear war may be started. A pathogen may be engineered to kill. The emergence of AI could go wrong. Nano WMDs could be unleashed. There are yet others to be considered and mitigated to the extent possible. ADC stands for asymmetric destructive capability. Little is needed to destroy. Large scale destruction is possible from less resources. Current WMDs are nothing compared to nanotech weapons. SIMAD stands for single individual massive ability for destruction. The unabomber is an example. Precautions, prevention, warnings and counter-measures are possible. Lifeboat Foundation consists of Trans-survivalists. We should monitor psychology in education. Mental health and behavior monitoring should be implemented.

TransVision Thursday Afternoon Session I Notes

Giorgio Gaviraghi spoke on the eva project. Mothership eva is a space settlement. Main obstacles are high costs, long times government regulation and poor public perception. There are various strategies for reaching space. A space settlement is a needed intermediary on the way to mothership eva. Main goals include profitable space activities, decreasing costs and jump-starting a space economy. Phase 1 will be to go and get the basic resources from asteriods to build the ship. this would involve deflection systems and mining facilities. Phase 2 will be to fly the asteroid-mothership to the moon to extend activity to the moon and found a base. Phase 3 will be to extend activities to Mars. The eva mothership attached the the asteroid moves from project to project. Phase 4 will be transmars activities subsequent to having an infrastructure in place. The eva space settlement would include agriculture for long term settlement. Over time, inhabitants of moon or mars would become unable to return to earth. Synthetic bases in space thus provide a better option for space colonization. Jose Cordeiro works for the Millennium project. They focus on different themes each year. This year they are focusing on education. He spoke on energy scenarios for 2020, and a study that is being put together on the subject. Four scenarios were considered: business as usual, environmental backlash, high tech economy, and political turmoil. Comments from 300 experts were considered. If current trends continue, the largest growth is in natural gas and alternative energies will remain minimal. If there is an environmental backlash, common energy sources today will remain stable in usage. If there is a high tech economy, we might be able to access higher-cost oil more easily. Energy usage has moved in waves from wood to coal, to oil, to gas, and beyond. Technology puts off limits. EROEI; energy return on energy investment is key. An energy internet may be coming, first with wires and then without. Some are working on bacteria that consume air and water and excrete gasoline. The stone age did not end because of lack of stones, and the oil age will not end because of lack of oil. Fusion, helium binding, matter-energy equivalence and antimatter may provide new energy sources. There is a project to use the moon to capture solar energy and transfer it to the earth. We receive over 10,000 times solas energy on earth than what our current civilization consumes. Energy industry is much bigger than IT, and oil is the biggest segment. There is a lot of political consequence to this, which has and may continue to lead to turmoil. The geopolitics of oil is real. The chinese symbol for crisis, consists of two symbols: one for problem and one for opportunity. Tihamer Toth-Fejel spoke on nanotech. Top-down concept is directed assembly. The bottom-up concept is like chemistry. Regular top-top is macro tech. Bottom-bottom is nanotech. This gets strengths of top-down and bottom-up: mass production with precision. There are four stages to nantech: statis nanostructures, functional nanodevices, physical finite state nanomachines, and productive nanosystems. In the near term, we can increase the strength of materials, such as with carbon nanotubes. A crack in the space elevator would spread faster than the speed of sound, producing an explosion. There is a dramatic increase in proportional surface area as size decreases, which is near term useful. Semiconductor quantum dots may help with solar panels. Nanocoatings will improve surface hardening, biocides and self-cleaning. Labs on a chip, gas censors, are near. Medium term, we will be able to build arbitrarily complex heterogenous nanostructures. Filters can be created with precision by leaving blocks out of flat structures. Fuel cells can be improved. Extreme broadband and improved solar cells will be possible mid term. The goal of mid-term nanotech is to produce desktop nanofactories. In the far term, we can imagine everything from molecular printers to the omega point. Self-assembly, self-replication and indirect replication will become possible. Space elevators and space piers would be possible. Molecular printers could produce more printers. Input cartridges would be made of cheap material, but eventually the air might not be free -- good bye global warming, and hello cooling as CO2 removed. These risks and possibilities are analogous to the emergence of photosynthesis. Mother nature's message is adapt or die. Think hard. The nanotech revolution is coming quicker than you think.

TransVision Thursday Morning Session II Notes

Peter Diamandis spoke on getting off earth. In the early days of space exploration, there were no regulations or old engineers to say what could not be done. The laws of physics are what we know today, and we're just at the beginning of a technological society. What is possible in the future is unfathomable today. Stephen Hawking thinks humanity does not have a future unless it goes into space. The X prize, zero gravity corporation and rocket racing league are focused on how to get to space privately. Lindberg crossed the atlantic to win a prize. Within 18 months, passenger traffic increased 30 times and the number of aircraft increased 4 times. X prize stemmed from realization of what drove Lindberg. It was set up to attract small innovators -- not large corporations. 26 teams from seven countries spent 100 million dollars to win prize. The prize resulted in darwinian attempts to win prize. SpaceShipOne won the competition and is now next to Lindberg's plane in museum. The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself. They are now looking at x prizes in many other areas, such as medical and genomics (sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days), energy and automotive (100mpg vehicle). They have put together a zero-g parabolic flight program out of las vegas and florida. They want to make it possible for everyone to experience weightlessness. he showed videos of Hawking's trip on zero-G. Rocket racers idea came while watching Indy 500. It will include an augmented reality race course, ten racers, staggered takeoff, touch and go each lap with thrust in front of crowds.

TransVision Thursday Morning Session I Notes

Max More spoke on evidenced-based Transhumanism. There is not much evidenced-based business. Medicine is getting better, but Transhumanism is overly focused on best practices rather than evidences. Not all groups place value on evidences. Some are non-critical. Critical thinking is a good idea. Transhumanism is trans-humanism. It comes from enlightenment thought. It is based on critical thinking and questioning authorities. It's also about views of the future and trends. What is posthuman? We don't know. We're not seers or mystics. We question our beliefs. Are we experts on Transhumanism? There should be a test for this rather than only appeals to reading claims. Experts reproduce superior results. There are no Transhumanism experts. No one has been tested or has proven superior results. One may be an expert in aspects of individual aspects, but not in the multidisciplinary whole. Many forecasts are wrong because they are not anticipating change broadly enough, including counter-acting trends. Some say all the experts claim global warming is unquestionable. However, some do question it and some well-known forecasts violate best practises for forecasts. Who are the experts? What should we trust? The principles on which expertise should be based. Structured methods that don't depend on experts seem to be most effective. When something is complex, appeals to experts tend to be less effective. Transhumanists are not all futurists, but should be able to critique ideas about the future. Rule-based forecasting is sometimes better than expert forecasts. If there are well-known relationships, mathematical models can help. Extrapolation can help, with focus on nearest data points. Combining forecasts helps improve accuracy. The forecasting principles web site discusses how to select between various methods. Ron Bailey spoke about a post-scarcity economy. Wll it be mount olympus, the borg or something else? Commented that the wealth of nations is in our institutions and minds. There will always be scarcities of one sort or another. Time will be scarce. Economics is the study of allocation of scarce resources. Relationships and positions are scarce. Some argue that poverty is humanity's natural state. GDP per capita appears to be accelerating. Something happened during the enlightenment. Capitalism, democracy and the rule of law, and liberal science all emerged. Life expectancy has increased from forties to seventies since 1900. We have more time to promote relationships. Status has improved generally in some areas. Olympian option: immortality with individual identity. Borg option: immortality without individual identity. Is immortality a kind of oblivion? Does it remove desire to achieve? Is it the root of all evil? The greek gods had no physical needs except sacrifce smoke. They could conjure some things, but some were scarce and had to be made by work. The Greek gods were not concerned with virtue. Do these ideas provide a warning against pursuit of immortality? It was their way of dealing with the problem of evil. The greek gods also did not progress, which is different from some Transhumanist ideas. The borg do not compete. They are not omniscient, but have hive mind. They aren't really happy, but they are virtuous between them. Is the borg like a buddhist saint? Mind uploading seems to be headed toward borg-like existence. Why do we compete? Genes make us. You need wealth to get power, to get status, to get the girls. Does immortality reduce this drive? Physical immortality: why reproduce? Security and status may still matter. Digital immortality: infinte reproduction resulting in less concern for security? Are 800,000,000 galaxies enough to go around? Jerome Glenn spoke on global challenges in transition to conscious-technology age. There were not many futurists in the 1970s. Now there is a whole movement. Some think we're becoming cyborgs. Some think a built environment will become intelligent. Eventually these trends merge. When the trends are indistinguishable, we'll be in the post-information age. As ages or eras have progressed, we've moved toward linkage in products, individual power, wealth in being, motion for place, war over identity, and inverted time. The millennium project is a new kind of think tank. It is global. It was shaped by universities, corporations, governments and ngos. Nodes of the think tank are worldwide and connect views between sites. There are 15 global challenges. How can sustainable development be achieved? How can everyone have sufficient clean water without conflict? How can population growth and resources be brought into balance? How can genuine democracies replace authoritarian regimes? How can policymaking be more sensitive to long-term perspectives? How can info tech and communication convergence work for everyone? How can ethical markets be encouraged to reduce gap between rich and poor? How can the threat of new and recurring diseases be reduced? How can our capacity to decide improve as the nature of work and institutions change? How can shared values reduce ethnic conflicts? How can the changing status of women improve human condition? How can transnational organized crime be stopped from becoming more powerful and sophisticated? How can growing energy demands be met safely? How can accelerating tech be used safely?

TransVision Wednesday Morning Session II Notes

Marvin Minsky spoke about problems that we need to solve. The most serious are population and longevity. Others include epidemics, pollution, energy sources, income-gap poverty, education, terrorism, biological diversity, cultural diversity, and catastrophes. He thinks uploading is the best solution. It provides a more manageable form. Who will work when number of retirees equals number of workers? Robots will be needed to maintain infrastructure. 2001 is past. Where is HAL? Many expert systems today rival human experts, but only work in a small domain. Most AI researchers have tried to find universal techniques for solving all kinds of problems. This was physics envy. AI divided into specialties. Most people in the field make money by writing statistical learning machines. Humans think about what they've been thinking. When we recognize a problem type, we activate a way to think. Emotions are a way to think. Human resourcefulness is based on using different ways to think. If you build systems with multiple ways to work then, if one fails, another can be tried. When our minds enter machines, our descendents will involve in unknown ways. We'll need to escape the planet and ensure the universe remains meaningful. Scientists should celebrate new Sagan-like advocates. Philip Rosedale talked about his background that led up to the development of Second Life. He gave a demo of Second Life. There is an island with reproducing animals and plants, made using the second life scripting language. People have built 3d environments wrong. The key is to build using an atomic model, and allow people to build things from the bottom up. Second life uses a server to simulate 12 acres. There are 12000 servers. Residents of world are creating content at 10 percent per month, which is faster than any one person can consume. Users tend to be adults, age 32 average with more than 40 percent female. There 40000 people that are cash flow positive in second life. Money and relations both play roles. Building can be done real time. Objects can obey physical laws, and a scripting language can customize them. 40,000,000 dollars per month worth of exchange happening in second life now. Instruments can be programmed and played. Only 30 percent of second life residents are in united states. A translator gadget can allow communication between persons of different languages. Second life is creating relationships and jobs. Ben Goertzel spoke about attaining artificial general intelligence in virtual worlds. Embodiment is linked to what is happening in virtual worlds like second life. He is most interested in producing general intelligence. They have autonomy and a practical understanding of self and others. It has to understand the problem, as opposed to solving provided problems. This is contrasted to narrow AI. These are useful and can make money today. These include expert systems, gaming, etc. Narrow AI is generally of minimal use as a stepping-stone toward general AI. AGI-08.org in march 2008 will be first conference on artificial general intelligence. Deep blue, darpa grand challenge and google are narrow AI. These can't adapt to new games, new types of vehicles or complex questions. These are quite different from making real thinking machines. A human could learn these other things with an explanation and some practice. We can't create agi through incrementally generalizing narrow ai. We need to go back to basics. We need to create artificial simpletons, like babies and pets. We need to teach simpletons well, and convince millions of others to help teach them by making it fun. Then the practical applications will come. Where should the agi baby live? In a robot? In a virtual world? Without a body? If we want to understand it then we should have something in common with it. He has pursued development of agi in simulated worlds. The agi starts without object permanence. Psychological games are helpful, but the unpredictibility of the real world seems more helpful. Dogs in secoind life are narrow expert systems that cannot learn new tricks. It would be interesting to sell virtual babies in second life, as an annual subscription. Companies are doing job interviews in second life, but none can use an agi interviewer yet. The novamente project is aimed at creating agi. Learning algorithms include moses from metacog.org, and probabilistic learning systems. Cognitive development goes through infantile, concrete operational, formal, reflexive, and full self-modification. Why might novamente succeed where others have not? Our hardware is better. We have virtual worlds like second life with millions of teachers. The design is important, too. Start with animals, go through babies, and on to adults.

TransVision Wednesday Keynote Presentation (Ed Begley, Jr.) Notes

Ed Begley talked about the importance of the moment and planning for the future. He talked about environmental and other world problems facing us. He's not depressed because of what we've done already. He became an environmentalist because of the smog in LA. Since 1970, when he got involved in earth day, they have 4 times more cars and half the ozone. People say things like this cannot be done, but LA is evidence to the contrary. Pollution is anti-capitalist. The pollution becomes a cost for everyone. The polluter gets something for free from everyone else. Saving trees has market value, providing shade, hiking, camping, fishing, erosion control, greenhouse control. Everything done for the environment has been good for his bottom line over the long term. Do what you can afford. If you can't afford solar panels or electric cars, can you afford a light bulb or a better thermostat? A bus pass or a bike, or a garden or community garden? Don't talk about what you will do. Do it, and talk about what you've done. We should improve urban planning instead of moving to suburbs. Bring new life to cities. You can find and live in sustainable neighborhoods in cities. Instead of sacrificing conveniences, we need to sacrifice old thinking and improve efficiencies of our conveniences. Technology is not the problem. Technology can help us improve the situation. Developing countries can leapfrog old dirty techs to new clean techs, and this will help them avoid costs.

TransVision Tuesday Afternoon Session II Notes

Ralph Merkle discussed how cryonics is making its way slowly into mainstream awareness and acceptance. Cryonics puts bodies into preservation until future tech can revive and rejuvenate. Cooling down is done by today's tech. Reviving depends on theories of nanotech, depending on assumption that tech will continue to advance. Diamonds, coal, computer chips, sand and people are all composed of the same atoms. We can now arrange atoms more precisely and at lower cost than in past, and we continue to see this advancing. There's plenty of room at the bottom (by Feynman) described molecular nanotech ideas, building machines at molecular scale. It is theoretical feasible. Experimentally, we can pick up and put down a specific molecule. We're working on stacking. Eventually it should be no more remarkable than using our hands to do analogous tasks. What is the impact of nanotech on medical tasks? Cells will be gigantic to nanotech arms and small computers. Hundreds could fit in the cell. The arms could clean out arteries or devour bacteria. It could supply oxygen more efficiently. Check out nanomedicine.com for more info. This will produce a revolutioon in medicine. Today, function must be preserved. In the future, only structure preservation will be required. Cryonics is about saving lives, not freezing the dead. We dispute the diagnosis, and want a second opinion from a future physician. Death is defined as a permanent cessation of all vital functions. If cryonics works, the preserved are not dead. Information theoretic death requires that structures that encode memory and personality be lost before one is dead. If you sign up and it works then you live, if not you die. If you do not sign up, you die either way. Life insurance is the financial cost to be considered. To join the experimental group go to alcor web site. To join the control group, you don't have to do anything. Cryonicists and critics agree that the preservation lasts more than 1000 years. Long term memory looks robust enough to preserve. Short term memory likely lost. Tanya Jones spoke about the improvements of cryonics today. The goal is to stop cell deterioration, protect tissue from attack, preserve structures, prepare tissues for preservation, then freeze. Standard protocols have been developed. They have 24 to 48 hours to get persons to Arizona for procedures. Proximity to Alcor is critical because of regulation. Faster cooling, better circulation, effective stabilization kits, improved vitrification and fracture-free temperature descent are areas where they are working on improvement. Shannon Vyff spoke on why she became a cryonicist, how she became involved in calorie restriction, and why she became involved with the Methuselah Foundation. She wrote a book (21st Century Kids) to help children understand what it means to be cryonically preserved. Her husband also provided a testimonial on the value of a hope in cryonics.

TransVision Tuesday Morning Session II Notes

James Hughes spoke on Cyborgs today and in the future. Ideas of improving human nature emerged along with the enlightenment. They anticipated the ideas advocated by Transhumanism. Diderot speculated on machine brains and resurrection. Benjamin Franklin speculated on defeating disease. Condorcet claimed there would be no limit to the perfection of humanity. External devices, chemical management, cybernetic augmentation and redesign, present and future, work toward transcending the body's limits. JD Bernal projected cybernetics in 1920s. Vannevar Bush proposed direct brain interfaces to computers. Kline and Clynes imagined body suits for controlling astronaut bodies from ground control. 8 percent of americans have artificial organs today. Nanotissue engineering is growing tissues and neural bridges. Robert Freitas has been foresightful in proposing nano red blood cell -- respirocyte. Prosthetic limbs and joints are advancing well, with smart legs and arms that connect directly to nerves. Sprinter with prosthetic leg can outrun olympians. Implants for depression help stimulate nerves at controlled rate. Visual implants already working at low resolution. Cochlear implants have become common and are improving. Implants for persons who have lost control of their bodies are being worked on. Brain-computer interfaces with motor cortex of brain are allowing control of movement. Nanoneural network in brain is distant goal toward which we are advancing. More research support is needed for neural interfaces, biocompatible nanomaterials, and medical nanorobotics. We need to ensure safety and access to technologies. Andrew Rosenson spoke on the future of medical imaging. It started with DaVinci's drawings. Harvey showed the circulatory system and the brain in drawings. Elias Zerhouni of NIH says imaging should be predictive, personalized and preemptive. Star Trek showed scanner beds that don't look too different from today's bone scanners. CT scans are on the cutting edge. They have advanced from pixelated black and white to smooth color images. Ultrsound has approved to 3d images. George Lucas wrote first program for 3d medical imaging from star wars experience. Moore's law is working in genomics and imaging. Integrating images and info from many advancing sources has become a challenge. Computer aided detection now facilitates detection of problems. Scale of radiology is changing, looking at not only anatomy, but also molecular structure. Merging PET and CT scans has been helpful, with each providing its strength. We can now see thyroid output in real time. New cardiac CT scan is a big deal because it is fast enough to show heart without blur of movement and in 3d rotating shades and colors. Old scans only showed silhouettes. We can now do virtual colonoscopy. We can see 3d aneurysms. You can see this at Heart Scan of Chicago. We can see neural pathways that look like wigs. Where will we be tomorrow? We'll miniaturize the machines. Michael Weiner spoke on innovation, and how innovation is an innovation. It's difficult to get investment. Some ideas are too early or too late. Perhaps there is a way to make money on early stage innovation? The overhead for management team is costly. What if you invest in many early projects cheaply, and wait for some to emerge as successes? Make patents and wait for others to want them, when it is viable. You can sell it later. If you are an inventor, you should treat your idea like a child. Would you take your child to a nursery school that kills some of the children? That's what venture capital does. Find old guys that have a track record of good ideas. Maybe they have other ideas they are unlikely to patent later in life. This has produced good results. Device for killing cancer cells flowing in blood. Device for collecting adult stem cells in blood. Device for signaling stem cell differentiation. Device for restarting heart in acute heart failure, after all else has failed. Technology for making implantable devices safe for mri. These might not have been invested in. Girl had her life saved by heart device for dogs, but the device has not been taken to market for 15 years. Now they're working with the inventor to make new patents. Wilson accidentally discovered how to make a small pacemaker while working on sheep. Venture capital would not have worked, fda would have blocked it, but a small bankrupt business made it happen. Working with this guy, they have come up with new patents. They're now developing visible stents and heart assistant devices. Look at good ideas for long term potential first and money making second. Find the right financing vehicle. Give it a chance. Accelerating innovation takes innovation in process.

TransVision Tuesday Keynote Presentation (Aubrey de Grey) Notes

Here are some more rough notes from the TransVision conference. ----- Aubrey de Gray spoke about his new book "Ending Aging". He then continued on to talk about how persons are considered lunatics for advocating slowing the aging process. Too little biomedical funding (perhaps less than one percent) is going into reversing aging. Euphemisms for aging like "healthy aging" and "aging is not a disease" are being promoted. If it's not a disease, why fund fixing it? Aging is not less bad when postponed. We should admit that our goal is elimination of aging. How do we give this credibility? Arguments from incredulity or self-serving authorities are proposed against it. The Methuselah Foundation needs to renew its efforts to provide news and promote anti-aging. The web site will be redone and improved. The first 1000 year old will be less than 20 years younger than the first 150 year old. Aging escape velocity would be reached. He's been working on simulating aging and intervention. The simulation of aging has closely matched real world results. The intervention simulation shows that 10 percent of seventy year olds will survive once the first longevity therapy is introduced, whereas 50 percent of sixty year olds survive and almost no 80 year olds survive. A small amount of time makes a big difference. Progress is being made in longevity science, both in lysosomal enhancement and in allotopic expression. Funding is increasing. The Mprize is at 4.5 million, which is starting to encourage some research for the purpose of the prize. SENS credibility improving. Some of de Grey's criticis have in turn been criticized by outside neutral parties, including acknowledged experts in technology and science. Various groups, including theologians, are making documentaries and otherwise marketing the ideas. With enough money, the experts needed to develop therapies are ready to work on the problem. Funding is ramping up. Our action today can save many lives by accelerating the introduction of first therapies. Mealy-mouthed messaging has been tried, so now is time to be tougher. People were irrational about aging, but that is becoming decreasingly justifiable.

TransVision Tuesday Morning Session I Notes

The notes are crude, but here they are. I'll add my thoughts later. ----- Charlie Kam opened the TransVision conference. Anders Sandberg discussed brain emulation. What level of detail is needed? Down to quantum states? Include spin or more? How do we simulate? Need body simulator and environment simulator (like simulated worlds) for testing and feedback. Start with worms or mice. Non-destructive scan is complicated, so first will be destructive -- slicing and electron microscope scanning. We need sufficient computing power, most think will come around the middle of this century. Depends on resolution needed. If some chemistry needed then 2050 is year for sufficient computing power. Gradual emergence of emulation. We'll see a worm, then mouse then a cute simulated cat, and people will realize that, assuming moore's law continues, we'll have a human within a few years. Mark Walker talked about biohappiness. The thesis that it is permissible for persons to alter the biological basis of happiness. Happiness is multifaceted: about, feeling, disposition, life, etc. Happiness has a market -- check out the book store or the philosophers? Why is it important? Only perfectionists, like Nietzsche, claim not to pursue happiness. Primitive drugs won't work, because of habituation and side-effects. Anti-depressants are slightly better. Even people who are not reporting depression have reported feeling better than well on Prozac, but side effects arise with time. Modeling a pharmecological agent after the the chemistry of the hyperthemic is the best model. They are unusually happy, even sleeping less and facing major life challenges. Genetics play a role. Happiness of twin 10 years ago predicts happiness better than factors like education or income. Can such a tool work? Would it provide false happiness? Is it artificial? Yes. Is it authentic? Yes. It can be both, but hyperthemic sometimes want to experience sorrow and think their happiness is not authentic. Will the cost be a zombie world? Hyperthemic still have ups and downs and are multidimensional. Will it cost a loss of achievement? Some think happiness decreases drive, but that is incorrect folk psychology. The causal direction is not clear, but happiness tends to correlate with excelling at work and in social life, as well as better physical and mental health. Why should we support it? Individual liberty and bio-autonomy, justice relative to success of hyperthemic which have advantage, improve social harmony. Patrick Hopkins discussed the moral vision of transhumanists -- the moral vision of humans that envision transformation to neohumans. We may not be unique, but what distinguishes us? Humans are creatures that can imagine themselves to be other than what they are. Biology, sociality, curiosity, pursuit of happiness and empowerment: these describe humans. We are less empowered than we can desire. Transhumanists think these are more than environmental matters. They are matters that we can address in the human condition. Humans have long imagined ourselves in greater than human projects. Instead of pursuing other worlds, or pleasures, or eradicating desires, why not more closely align the human body with the human imagination? There is paradox in human drive both toward and away adversity. If we don't struggle, we watch it or imagine it. We are not adapted for heaven or our ideal worlds. Perhaps we should change our natures to not desire conflict? Should we shed our old selves to become new, enlightened, etc. Otherwise, we only become superhuman -- not transhuman. Thus, even our characters and wills must be transformed into something better. Are we still ourselves when we change? This may be a problem, but one we already face in growing from childhood to adulthood, or foolishness to wisdom. We hope for that which we cannot understand. We assume that greater knowledge will lead to greater good. Seeking truth is another aspect of a Transhumanist moral vision. Our breadth of human values will be reflected in a breadth of relationships between humans and transhumans, from superhuman warlords to transcendent compassion.

TransVision Today

I'm in Chicago for TransVision 2007, today through Thursday. The speaker lineup includes Ray Kurzweil, Nick Bostrom, Aubrey de Grey and James Hughes. As things progress, I plan to post some notes and thoughts to the blog. Stay tuned!

President Packer Looks to Eternity

Helen Whitney recently interviewed several leaders of the LDS Church for the PBS documentary on the Mormons. PBS posted transcripts of some of the interviews to their site. Recently, the LDS Church posted transcripts of a couple more interviews to their site, including the interview of Boyd Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I was intrigued by some thoughts President Packer shared at the end of his interview, presented below -- "HW" standing for Helen Whitney and "BKP" standing for Boyd Packer.

HW: There’s a hymn that you mentioned that you love when talking about the plan of salvation to somebody. Something about “hie to” — I’d like to hear that from you.

BKP: “If I could hie to Kolob in the twinkling of an eye, and then continue onward with that same speed to fly, do you think that I could ever, through all eternity, find out the generations where Gods began to be?”

Then the other verse goes on, and you can read it: “There is no end to matter, there is no end to space; there is no end to wisdom; there is no end to race.” You’re testing an old man. That is a very profound song that you should read when you’re studying about what’s going on in the world today.

When you read that and talk and look into the eternities, you see the endlessness of it all — that’s caught up in the words of that song. President David O. McKay read that to one of the astronauts that came. There’s so many things that we don’t know, but it’s a wonderful world that we live in. There’s no end to what we can learn, but we only use about 15 percent of the room there. It’s a great, great revelation that came from William W. Phelps.

"If I could hie to Kolob” — now you have to know what Kolob is; the scriptures say it is the center place — “and then continue onward with that same speed to fly.”

I know a lot of hymns, and I know that one.

HW: But it does say something essential about Mormons.

BKP: It does; it shows a depth and a breadth and a power that is consistent with all that we know. All of the orbits of all the heavenly bodies follow that same thing — it’s an amazing world we live in. When you see color and life and all that life has to offer, we shouldn’t be bored.

HW: More than that. One last question. There’s a moment that comes — instead of inheriting the faith, they inhabit it. Was there such a moment for you?

BKP: I can’t look back and say, “Well that’s the day, that’s the moment I knew.” There were a number of them — I think I grew into it and tried to teach our family in such a way they’d grow into it. Finding that “pearl of great price” is just the beginning, not the end.

Someone said to Brigham Young, “The more I know, the more I learn, the less I know.” He said, “I wouldn’t say that. I would say the more I learn, the more I discern an eternity of knowledge.” Now that’s Brigham Young.

I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised to learn that President Packer loves the hymn "If You Could Hie to Kolob". It is, in my estimation, among the most uniquely Mormon hymns, celebrating eternal progress of a plurality of gods in worlds without end. I also enjoyed President Packer's reference to Brigham Young's comment on knowledge -- why should we expect an end to learning? It's good to see evidence that these ideas continue to be cherished by the leaders of the LDS Church.

Top 10 Transhumanist Technologies

Michael Anissimov has put together descriptions of the top ten Transhumanist technologies. The article is a great overview of some Transhumanist ideas. Here are the items he includes in his list:

10) Cryonics

9) Virtual Reality

8) Gene Therapy / RNA Interference

7) Space Colonization

6) Cybernetics

5) Autonomous Self-Replicating Robots

4) Molecular Manufacturing

3) Megascale Engineering

2) Mind Uploading

1) Artificial General Intelligence

See his site for more information on each of these topics.

Transhumanist Faith



Some have wondered whether Singularitarianism, with which a subset of Transhumanists identify, is the true religion. Their point, with which I readily agree, is that, whether we think of Transhumanism as a religion or not, what matters is whether it will deliver on the future it advocates.

Mormon Senator Invites Hindu Prayer

I was happy to read this morning of a decision by Senator Harry Reid (a Mormon) to invite a Hindu to offer prayer at the beginning of the Senate session, despite protests from three "Christians and patriots" that were removed by police from the visitors' gallery.

A part of my Mormon faith that I value highly is reflected in these words from the Book of Mormon:

Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 29 7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth? 8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.

I know and work regularly with Hindus living in India. When visiting them, they've explained to me aspects of their faith and escorted me through ceremonies in their temples. Like so many other religions in our world, Hinduism has much to offer that is beautiful and uplifting.

The future we work to create should protect religious (and non-religious) diversity. To the extent our faith is not oppressive, we should be free to worship (or not) as we desire. We should also be free to debate the benefits and detriments of competing faiths, without fear of death or imprisonment. I am confident that this will make us a more resilient civilization.

Here's a final thought from Joseph Smith:

"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." (Eleventh Article of Faith)

Skeptical of the ideas proposed by Transhumanists?



Are you skeptical of the ideas proposed by Transhumanists? Perhaps you have something in common with the folks quoted below.

Are Transhumanists Evil for Radical Individualism or Radical Communalism?

Demonization of Transhumanism abounds, and ironically arises for apparently contradictory reasons. Just the other day, I commented on how "Everyday Theology" characterized Transhumanists too narrowly as radical individualists. Well, today Frederick Meekins, writing for "Ether Zone", characterizes Transhumanists as radical communalists that are intent on absorbing all individuality into something borg-like. Which is it? Are Transhumanists all radical individualists or radical communalists? Do they want to be utterly independent of you, or do they want to control you in every way possible? Both?!?
Philosophers have long recognized an ethical tension between individuals and communities. Some have suggested that one or the other should be given the greater weight. As I see it, the tension itself is valuable, and giving greater weight to one or the other leads to different forms of oppression. A living community consisting of living individuals may, indeed, require constant assessment and adjustment to ensure their healthy inter-relations.
My personal views aside, the point is that demonization of Transhumanists for being radical individualists or radical communalists is perhaps more of a reflection of the fears and prejudices of the person criticizing Transhumanism than it is of real-world Transhumanists, who undoubtedly represent the spectrum of thought regarding the relative ethical weighting of individuals and communities.
Frederick Meekins titled his article "Just because you don't understand doesn't mean it's not real." I'll add that just because you think you understand doesn't mean you're right.

Everyday Theology Characterizes Transhumanism Too Narrowly

I recently came across a document produced by a Christian group that takes on the admirable task of presenting "Everyday Theology". The document includes a chapter on Transhumanism. Unfortunately, however, it does not accurately characterize Transhumanists.

For example, it claims Transhumanists believe "whatever can be done scientifically and technologically should be done" and that "technology is inherently good". There may be a Transhumanist out there that thinks in such ways, but I don't know one that does. Most Transhumanists explicitly recognize risks, even existential risks, associated with technology. Transhumanists generally recognize that technology is power, and that power can be used both for good and evil. Transhumanists also generally believe that we can best avoid the evil possibilities by seeking after and embracing the good possibilities, rather than by ignoring or attempting to evade technology altogether.

The document entirely overlooks Transhumanists, such as those represented by the Mormon Transhumanist Association, that have a strong spiritual aspect to their beliefs. It claims that Transhumanists do not believe in the existence of greater beings or higher powers, yet some of us either fully embrace the existence of God or make allowances for such possibilities (reflecting the Simulation Hypothesis of the Simulation Argument).

The document claims that Transhumanists are individualists who believe that "one’s own needs, interests, and desires are more important than those of others or of any larger group or community." Certainly some Transhumanists are radical individualists, but some of us simply are not. For example, although I identify as a moderate Libertarian, I do not believe that individual desires and wills are more (or less) important than community laws, and feel that this perspective is entirely compatible with my Transhumanist views. Moreover, I would argue that radical individualism will exacerbate technological risks; working together in friendship, we are more likely to avoid disastrous or oppressive outcomes.

The document claims that Transhumanists believe the visible material world is all that exists. However, while Transhumanists are generally materialists (in the philosophic sense) and empiricists, that does not mean they think sight is the extent of experience or that they think we will not encounter new extraordinary experiences. Rather, many Transhumanists simply take on the practical perspective that whatever cannot be experienced cannot affect us, and so direct their attention to that which can be experienced.

On the other hand, the document does get some things right, such as characterizing Transhumanists as being optimistic about technology. We do see technological opportunities to live longer, smarter and stronger. We do intend to act on technological possibilities for renewing our environment and extending the scope of our habitable world. Indeed, many of us feel that a decision not to pursue these opportunities would be a moral failing.

Lincoln Cannon
Thrivous
New God Argument
Mormon Transhumanist Association
Christian Transhumanist Association
Discerner
Lincoln Cannon LLC
Thrivous Nootropics for Cognitive Enhancement
Thrivous Nootropics for Cognitive Enhancement