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Stem-Cell Clinical Trials Show Remarkable Results Against Age-Related Frailty – Article by Steve Hill

Stem-Cell Clinical Trials Show Remarkable Results Against Age-Related Frailty – Article by Steve Hill

Steve Hill


Editor’s Note: In this article, Mr. Steve Hill discusses two very promising human clinical trials using stem cell therapy for age-related frailty. This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF) .

~ Kenneth Alum, Director of Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, October 29, 2017

The first results of two human clinical trials using stem cell therapy for age-related frailty have been published, and the results are very impressive indeed. The studies show that the approach used is effective in tackling multiple key age-related factors.

Aging research has made significant progress in the last few years, with senescent-cell-clearing therapies entering human trials this year, DNA repair in human trials, and a number of other exciting therapies nearing human testing. We are reaching the point where therapies that target aging processes are no longer a matter of speculation; they are now an undeniable matter of fact.

What are mesenchymal stem cells?

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are one of the most commonly used types of stem cells in therapy. MSCs are adult stem cells that can become other types of cells, depending on stimulus; this ability to become a variety of other cell types is known as multipotency. [1]

The cells into which MSCs can transform (differentiate) include osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells), myocytes (muscle cells), and adipocytes (fat cells). MSCs are of great interest to aging researchers and are arguably one of the most well studied and understood types of stem cells. [2]

MSCs are currently in various trials to treat conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. [3] The potential of MSCs for treating neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, are also being explored in preclinical testing. [4-5]

A therapy for age-related frailty

The focus of the MSC therapy in the case of these two clinical trials is to reduce the effects of age-related frailty on senior citizens. This also marks an important step for rejuvenation biotechnology, as this is the first stem-cell treatment that is close to final FDA approval for specifically targeting age-related frailty. Should this be approved, then it opens the door for other similar approaches and the potential treatment of many age-related diseases.

The therapy itself uses MSCs taken from adult donor bone marrow and is infused into patients with an average age of 76 years old. The good news is that patients in both the phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials have shown no adverse effects to treatment.

This is excellent news and now paves the way to move to phase 3 clinical trials, which are larger-scale tests to further determine the efficacy and compare it to the best currently available treatments, for which there are basically none beyond simple coping approaches, such as walking sticks and frames to compensate for frailty.

It is also important to note that at this at this point, the drug or therapy is accepted as having some effect. You can read more about the clinical trial process and what each phase means here.

In the first trial, 15 patients with age-related frailty were given a single transplant of MSCs from donors aged between 20 and 45. [6] Six months later, all patients in the trial showed an improved level of fitness, lower levels of inflammatory tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and improved quality of life in general. TNF is one of the regulators of inflammation and contributes to the chronic age-related inflammation known as “inflammaging”, which drives a number of age-related diseases. [7]

The second trial was a randomized, double-blind study including a placebo group. An improved physical performance level was observed in patients, and, again, the level of systemic TNF, and thus inflammation, was reduced. [8] Once again, there were no adverse effects observed in the patients, and the researchers wrote:

Treated groups had remarkable improvements in physical performance measures and inflammatory biomarkers, both of which characterize the frailty syndrome.

David G. Le Couter and colleagues have written about the clinical trials in a guest editorial in The Journals of Gerontology:

There are always caveats associated with interpreting efficacy in small numbers of subjects, yet it is remarkable that a single treatment seems to have generated improvement in key features of frailty that are sustained for many months.

The next step for the researchers here is to begin a phase 2b clinical trial with 120 patients in ten different locations. Following the conclusion of this, a large randomized phase 3 trial will be launched, and this will be the final barrier to public approval for the therapy.

Conclusion

With an ever-increasing number of aged people in our population, stem cells hold great potential for treating a number of age-related diseases and combating the disability and frailty that accompany the aging process. Developing therapies like these could potentially help older people to enjoy an improved level of physical performance and a better quality of life. Being able to remain mobile and independent as we grow older would be of huge benefit to not only the individual but also to families and society as a whole.

There are currently no FDA-approved treatments for age-related frailty, so this represents a huge unmet need that will only worsen with an increasingly aging population if those needs are not met by new medicines.

Seeing such tangible results in humans is a clear indication of the potential of rejuvenation biotechnology, and how we regard and treat aging will be changing in the near future.

Literature

[1] Nardi, N. B., & da Silva Meirelles, L. (2008). Mesenchymal stem cells: isolation, in vitro expansion and characterization. In Stem cells (pp. 249-282). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

[2] Stolzing, A., Jones, E., McGonagle, D., & Scutt, A. (2008). Age-related changes in human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells: consequences for cell therapies. Mechanisms of ageing and development, 129(3), 163-173.

[3] Wang, S., Qu, X., & Zhao, R. C. (2012). Clinical applications of mesenchymal stem cells. Journal of hematology & oncology, 5(1), 19.

[4] Danielyan, L., Beer-Hammer, S., Stolzing, A., Schäfer, R., Siegel, G., Fabian, C., … & Novakovic, A. (2014). Intranasal delivery of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells, macrophages, and microglia to the brain in mouse models of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Cell transplantation, 23(1), S123-S139.

[5] Naaldijk, Y., Jaeger, C., Fabian, C., Leovsky, C., Blüher, A., Rudolph, L., … & Stolzing, A. (2017). Effect of systemic transplantation of bone marrow‐derived mesenchymal stem cells on neuropathology markers in APP/PS1 Alzheimer mice. Neuropathology and applied neurobiology, 43(4), 299-314.

[6] Golpanian, S., DiFede, D. L., Khan, A., Schulman, I. H., Landin, A. M., Tompkins, B. A., … & Levis-Dusseau, S. (2017). Allogeneic Human Mesenchymal Stem Cell Infusions for Aging Frailty. Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biomedical Sciences and Medical Sciences, glx056.

[7] Franceschi, C., Garagnani, P., Vitale, G., Capri, M., & Salvioli, S. (2017). Inflammaging and ‘Garb-aging’. Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, 28(3), 199-212.

[8] Tompkins, B. A., DiFede, D. L., Khan, A., Landin, A. M., Schulman, I. H., Pujol, M. V., … & Mushtaq, M. (2017). Allogeneic Mesenchymal Stem Cells Ameliorate Aging Frailty: A Phase II Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biomedical Sciences and Medical Sciences, 72(11), 1513-1522.

 

About Steve Hill

As a scientific writer and a devoted advocate of healthy longevity technologies, Steve has provided the community with multiple educational articles, interviews, and podcasts, helping the general public to better understand aging and the means to modify its dynamics. His materials can be found at H+ Magazine, Longevity Reporter, Psychology Today, and Singularity Weblog. He is a co-author of the book Aging Prevention for All – a guide for the general public exploring evidence-based means to extend healthy life (in press).

About LIFE EXTENSION ADVOCACY FOUNDATION (LEAF)

In 2014, the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation was established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting increased healthy human lifespan through fiscally sponsoring longevity research projects and raising awareness regarding the societal benefits of life extension. In 2015 they launched Lifespan.io, the first nonprofit crowdfunding platform focused on the biomedical research of aging.

They believe that this will enable the general public to influence the pace of research directly. To date they have successfully supported four research projects aimed at investigating different processes of aging and developing therapies to treat age-related diseases.

The LEAF team organizes educational events, takes part in different public and scientific conferences, and actively engages with the public on social media in order to help disseminate this crucial information. They initiate public dialogue aimed at regulatory improvement in the fields related to rejuvenation biotechnology.

Why Rejuvenation Biotechnology Could Benefit You – Article by Nicola Bagalà

Why Rejuvenation Biotechnology Could Benefit You – Article by Nicola Bagalà

Nicola Bagalà


Editor’s Note: In this article, Mr. Nicola Bagalà discusses the benefits of Rejuvenation Biotechnology (age-reversing technology).  This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF) .

~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, October 25, 2017

The benefits are many; some are obvious, and some are less so. The ones I’ll discuss in this article are the ones I see as obvious, tangible, immediate benefits for the people undergoing rejuvenation.

Health

We’ve kind of made a rather big deal of this one, haven’t we? Rejuvenation, we have said time and again, is pretty much all about health. The causal link between biological aging and pathologies is well established, and even when we account for the few elderly who are exceptionally healthy for their age, we’re left with the obvious fact that the older you are, the sicker you are, and even the aforementioned exceptions aren’t in the best of shape.

To the best of my knowledge, the number of people who actively wish to be sick at some point tends to be fairly small; so, when you think that a truly comprehensive rejuvenation platform would allow people to maintain youthful health irrespective of their age, the health benefits of rejuvenation become crystal clear. To be honest, this benefit alone would be enough for me, and I wouldn’t even need to look into the other ones.

Independence

Frailty, failing senses, weakness, and diseases aren’t good friends of independence, but they are good friends of old age. That’s why nursing homes exist in the first place to take care of elderly people who are no longer independent. Again, even the few exceptional cases who manage on their own until death don’t have it easy. Having people doing things for you can be nice in small doses, but having to have people doing things for you, not so much. Rejuvenation would eliminate the health issues that make the elderly dependent on others, which is a rather evident benefit.

Longevity

As odd as it may sound, longevity is really just a ‘side effect’ of health, because you can’t be healthy and dead. The longer you’re healthy enough to be alive, the longer you’ll live. Since rejuvenation would keep you in a state of youthful health, the obvious consequence is that you’d live longer. How much longer exactly is hard to say, but as long as you’re healthy enough to enjoy life, it’s safe to say that longevity would be a benefit; you’d have more time and energy to dedicate to what you love doing, and you could keep learning and growing as a person for an indefinitely long time.

You would not have to worry about the right age to change your job, get married, or start practicing a new sport, because your health wouldn’t depend on your age, and the time at your disposal would not have a definite upper limit. If the first few decades of your life weren’t as good as they could have been for one reason or another, you would still have time ahead and a chance of a better future, which sounds more appealing than ten years in a hospice with deteriorating health to me. (Let’s face it: If your life isn’t very good to begin with, a disease is hardly going to make it better.)

Additionally, a longer life would allow you to see what the future has in store for humanity. I wouldn’t be too quick to think the future will be all doom and gloom.

Today’s world is more peaceful and prosperous than it was in the past, and while there’s no certainty it will be at least this good in the future, there’s no certainty that it won’t be worth living in either. I would argue it’s best not to cross our bridges before we get there, and we shouldn’t opt out of life before we actually reach a point when we don’t care for it anymore, if ever.

I don’t think I will ever have a reason to give up on life or get bored with it, but I accept that somebody might think otherwise. Even so, I think being able to choose how long you want to live, and always living in the prime of health, is a much better deal than the current situation of having a more-or-less fixed lifespan with poor health near the end.

Choice

Ultimately, all of these perks can be summarised into one: choice. If we had fully working rejuvenation therapies available and were thus able to keep ourselves always perfectly healthy, regardless of our age, we could choose whether we wanted to use these therapies or not. Those who wish a longer, healthier life could avail themselves of the opportunity and escape aging for as long as they wanted; those who prefer to age and bow out the traditional way could just as easily not use the therapies.

Rejuvenation would give us an extra option we currently don’t have; everyone is forced to face the burden of aging and eventually die of it, for the moment. Being able to choose what we wish for ourselves is one of the most fundamental human rights and an obvious, unquestionable benefit.

About Nicola Bagalà

Nicola Bagalà has been an enthusiastic supporter and advocate of rejuvenation science since 2011. Although his preferred approach to treating age related diseases is Aubrey de Grey’s suggested SENS platform, he is very interested in any other potential approach as well. In 2015, he launched the blog Rejuvenaction to advocate for rejuvenation and to answer common concerns that generally come with the prospect of vastly extended healthy lifespans. Originally a mathematician graduated from Helsinki University, his scientific interests range from cosmology to AI, from drawing and writing to music, and he always complains he doesn’t have enough time to dedicate to all of them which is one of the reasons he’s into life extension. He’s also a computer programmer and web developer. All the years spent learning about the science of rejuvenation have sparked his interest in biology, in which he’s planning to get a university degree.

About LIFE EXTENSION ADVOCACY FOUNDATION (LEAF)

In 2014, the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation was established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting increased healthy human lifespan through fiscally sponsoring longevity research projects and raising awareness regarding the societal benefits of life extension. In 2015 they launched Lifespan.io, the first nonprofit crowdfunding platform focused on the biomedical research of aging.

They believe that this will enable the general public to influence the pace of research directly. To date they have successfully supported four research projects aimed at investigating different processes of aging and developing therapies to treat age-related diseases.

The LEAF team organizes educational events, takes part in different public and scientific conferences, and actively engages with the public on social media in order to help disseminate this crucial information. They initiate public dialogue aimed at regulatory improvement in the fields related to rejuvenation biotechnology.

Hallmarks of Aging: Epigenetic Alterations – Article by Steve Hill

Hallmarks of Aging: Epigenetic Alterations – Article by Steve Hill

Steve Hill


Editor’s Note: In this article, Mr. Steve Hill discusses one of the hallmarks of aging – in this case, Epigenetic Alterations. It is part of a paper published in 2013. It divides aging into a number of distinct categories (“hallmarks”) of damage to explain how the aging process works and how it causes age-related diseases [1]. This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                        ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, October 18, 2017

What are epigenetic alterations?

The DNA in every one of our cells is identical, with only small variations, so why do our various organs and tissues look so different, and how do cells know what to become?

DNA is modified by the addition of epigenetic information that changes the pattern of gene expression in a cell, suppressing or enhancing the expression of certain genes in a cell as the situation demands. This is how a cell in the liver knows that it needs to develop into a liver cell; the epigenetic instructions make sure that it is given the right orders to become the correct cell type.

At a basic level, these epigenetic instructions make sure that the genes needed to develop into a liver cell are turned on, while the instructions specific to other types of cells are turned off. Imagine if a heart cell was given the wrong instructions and became a bone cell!

How epigenetic alterations accumulate

The aging process can cause alterations to our epigenome, which can lead to alterations in gene expression that can potentially change and ultimately compromise cell function. As an example, epigenetic alterations of the immune system can harm activation and suppress immune cells, thus causing our immune system to fail and leaving us vulnerable to pathogens.

Inflammation is implicated in epigenetic alterations, and studies show that caloric restriction slows the rate of these epigenetic changes [2]. Metabolism and epigenetic alterations are closely linked with inflammation, facilitating a feedback loop leading to ever-worsening epigenetic alterations. Alterations to gene expression patterns are an important driver of the aging process. These alterations involve changes to DNA methylation patterns, histone modification, transcriptional alterations (variance in gene expression) and remodeling of chromatin (a DNA support structure that assists or impedes its transcription).

In the cell, gene expression is activated by hypomethylation (a loss of methylation) or silenced by hypermethylation (an increase of methylation) at a gene location. The aging process causes changes that reduce or increase methylation at different gene locations throughout the body. For example, some tumour suppressor genes become hypermethylated during aging, meaning that they cease functioning, which increases the risk of cancer [3]. Post-translational modifications of histones regulate gene expression by organizing the genome into active euchromatin regions, where DNA is accessible for transcription, or inactive heterochromatin regions, where DNA is compacted and less accessible for transcription. The aging process causes changes to these regions, which changes gene expression.

The aging process also causes an increase in transcriptional noise, which is the primary cause of variance in the gene expression happening between cells [4]. Researchers compared young and old tissues from several species and identified age-related transcriptional changes in the genes encoding key components of inflammatory, mitochondrial, and lysosomal degradation pathways [5].

 Finally, chromatin remodeling alters chromatin from a condensed state to a transcriptionally accessible state, allowing transcription factors and other DNA binding proteins to access DNA and control gene expression.

Conclusion

If we can find ways to reset age-related epigenetic alterations, we can potentially improve cell function, thus improving tissue and organ health.

One potential approach is the use of reprogramming factors, which reset cells to a developmental state, thus reverting epigenetic changes. We have been doing this for over a decade to create induced pluripotent stem cells, and recent work has seen a therapy based on that technique applied to living animals to reset their epigenetic alterations [6]. This reversed a number of age-related changes, and work is now proceeding with the goal of translating this to humans.

Epigenetic alterations might be considered like a program in a computer, but in this case, it is the cell, not a computer, being given instructions. Ultimately, damage causes changes that contribute to the cell moving from an efficient “program” of youth to a dysfunctional one of old age. If we can reset that program, we can potentially address this hallmark of aging, and a number of researchers are working on that right now.

 

Literature

[1] López-Otín, C., Blasco, M. A., Partridge, L., Serrano, M., & Kroemer, G. (2013). The hallmarks of aging. Cell, 153(6), 1194-1217.

[2] Maegawa, S., Lu, Y., Tahara, T., Lee, J. T., Madzo, J., Liang, S., … & Issa, J. P. J. (2017). Caloric restriction delays age-related methylation drift. Nature Communications, 8.

[3] Maegawa, S., Hinkal, G., Kim, H. S., Shen, L., Zhang, L., Zhang, J., … & Issa, J. P. J. (2010). Widespread and tissue specific age-related DNA methylation changes in mice. Genome research, 20(3), 332-340.

[4] Bahar, R., Hartmann, C. H., Rodriguez, K. A., Denny, A. D., Busuttil, R. A., Dollé, M. E., … & Vijg, J. (2006). Increased cell-to-cell variation in gene expression in ageing mouse heart. Nature, 441(7096), 1011-1014.

[5] De Magalhães, J. P., Curado, J., & Church, G. M. (2009). Meta-analysis of age-related gene expression profiles identifies common signatures of aging. Bioinformatics, 25(7), 875-881.

[6] Ocampo, A., Reddy, P., Martinez-Redondo, P., Platero-Luengo, A., Hatanaka, F., Hishida, T., … & Araoka, T. (2016). In Vivo Amelioration of Age-Associated Hallmarks by Partial Reprogramming. Cell, 167(7), 1719-1733.

 

About Steve Hill

As a scientific writer and a devoted advocate of healthy longevity technologies, Steve has provided the community with multiple educational articles, interviews, and podcasts, helping the general public to better understand aging and the means to modify its dynamics. His materials can be found at H+ Magazine, Longevity Reporter, Psychology Today, and Singularity Weblog. He is a co-author of the book Aging Prevention for All – a guide for the general public exploring evidence-based means to extend healthy life (in press).

About LIFE EXTENSION ADVOCACY FOUNDATION (LEAF)

In 2014, the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation was established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting increased healthy human lifespan through fiscally sponsoring longevity research projects and raising awareness regarding the societal benefits of life extension. In 2015 they launched Lifespan.io, the first nonprofit crowdfunding platform focused on the biomedical research of aging.

They believe that this will enable the general public to influence the pace of research directly. To date they have successfully supported four research projects aimed at investigating different processes of aging and developing therapies to treat age-related diseases.

The LEAF team organizes educational events, takes part in different public and scientific conferences, and actively engages with the public on social media in order to help disseminate this crucial information. They initiate public dialogue aimed at regulatory improvement in the fields related to rejuvenation biotechnology.

Hallmarks of Aging: Genomic Instability – Article by Steve Hill

Hallmarks of Aging: Genomic Instability – Article by Steve Hill

Steve Hill


Editor’s Note: In this article, Mr. Steve Hill discusses one of the hallmarks of aging – in this case, Genomic Instability. This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

~ Kenneth Alum, Director of Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, October 17, 2017

What is genomic instability?

The cells of your body produce a constant flow of proteins and other materials; these are built according to the blueprints contained in our DNA and are vital to cell function and survival. A large amount of information contained in the DNA is ignored during this process, and this is thought to be junk DNA, remnants of our evolutionary past that are no longer used.

However, if a part of the DNA important to cell function mutates or is damaged, the cell can experience a loss of proteostasis, in which the cell produces misfolded proteins. These misfolded proteins can be very harmful, such as when neurons in the brain produce masses of the toxic amyloid beta protein, as seen in Alzheimer’s disease.

Now, the odd dysfunctional cell is not really a huge problem; however, as we get older, an increasing number of cells succumb to this damage and begin to accumulate in tissue over time. Eventually, the number of these damaged cells reaches a point where tissue or organ function is compromised. Normally, the body removes these problem cells via a self-destruct sequence known as apoptosis, a sort of kill switch that senses the damage and destroys the cell in conjunction with the immune system.

Unfortunately, some cells evade apoptosis, taking up space in the tissue and pumping out inflammatory signals that damage the local tissue. These cells are known as senescent cells, and we will be covering them in a later Hallmarks article.

Another possible outcome of damaged DNA is cells that mutate and do not become senescent cells or destroy themselves via apoptosis. These cells continue to replicate, becoming more mutated each time they divide, and if a mutation damages the systems that regulate cell division or switches off the safety mechanisms against tumor formation, this can lead to cancer. The unchecked and rampant cell growth of cancer is probably the most well-known result of genomic instability.

How DNA damage accumulates

There are many ways for DNA to become damaged. UV rays, radiation, chemicals, and tobacco are all examples of environmental stressors that can damage the genome. Even chemotherapy agents designed to kill cancer can also potentially cause DNA damage and senescent cells, leading to later relapse [2].

Finally, even if we avoided all the external threats to our DNA, the body still damages itself. Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species produced during the operation of normal metabolism can damage both DNA and mitochondrial DNA.

Thankfully, we have evolved a robust network of repair systems and mechanisms that can repair most of this damage. We have enzymes that can detect and repair broken strands of DNA or reverse alterations made to base pairs. This repair process is not perfect, and sometimes the DNA is not repaired. This can lead to the cell replication machinery misreading the information contained in the DNA, causing a mutation.

As mutations are passed to daughter cells, the cell tries to prevent this from happening by checking DNA integrity before and after replication. Unfortunately, some cells do manage to slip through the net.

The consequences of DNA damage

A large number of age-related diseases are linked to damaged DNA or faulty DNA repair systems. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), and cancer are all the result of genomic instability.

Another example are the progeric diseases. Progerias are congenital disorders that result in rapid aging-like symptoms and a dramatically shortened lifespan, with Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) probably being the most well known. The disease is caused by a defect in Lamin A, a major component of a protein scaffold on the inner edge of the nucleus called the nuclear lamina. The lamina helps organize nuclear processes, such as RNA and DNA synthesis, and lamins are responsible for supporting key proteins in the DNA repair process.

This defect leads to HGPS sufferers only living until their early 20s and developing atherosclerosis, stiff joints, hair loss and wrinkles, and other accelerated aging-like characteristics.

Conclusion

Despite the various repair systems we have evolved, our body is constantly being assaulted from exposure to environmental stressors and even damaged through its own metabolic processes. Coupled with this, our repair systems also decline in effectiveness over time, meaning that DNA damage and mutations are inevitable.

There is some evidence to suggest that caloric restriction may help combat this, but as of now, no drugs or therapies are available yet that can prevent or repair DNA damage. The good news is human trials for DNA repair are launching this year at Harvard, and Dr. David Sinclair and other researchers are also working on their own solutions.

For the time being, the best we can do is to avoid risks, such as excessive sun exposure, industrial chemicals, smoking, and, of course, staying away from radioactive waste; there are no comic-book superpowers from these mutations!

Literature

[1] López-Otín, C., Blasco, M. A., Partridge, L., Serrano, M., & Kroemer, G. (2013). The hallmarks of aging. Cell, 153(6), 1194-1217.

[2] Demaria, M., O’Leary, M. N., Chang, J., Shao, L., Liu, S., Alimirah, F., … & Alston, S. (2017). Cellular senescence promotes adverse effects of chemotherapy and cancer relapse. Cancer discovery, 7(2), 165-176.

About Steve Hill

As a scientific writer and a devoted advocate of healthy longevity technologies, Steve has provided the community with multiple educational articles, interviews, and podcasts, helping the general public to better understand aging and the means to modify its dynamics. His materials can be found at H+ Magazine, Longevity Reporter, Psychology Today, and Singularity Weblog. He is a co-author of the book Aging Prevention for All – a guide for the general public exploring evidence-based means to extend healthy life (in press).

About LIFE EXTENSION ADVOCACY FOUNDATION (LEAF)

In 2014, the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation was established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting increased healthy human lifespan through fiscally sponsoring longevity research projects and raising awareness regarding the societal benefits of life extension. In 2015 they launched Lifespan.io, the first nonprofit crowdfunding platform focused on the biomedical research of aging.

They believe that this will enable the general public to influence the pace of research directly. To date they have successfully supported four research projects aimed at investigating different processes of aging and developing therapies to treat age-related diseases.

The LEAF team organizes educational events, takes part in different public and scientific conferences, and actively engages with the public on social media in order to help disseminate this crucial information. They initiate public dialogue aimed at regulatory improvement in the fields related to rejuvenation biotechnology.

The Good Sides of Aging? – Article by Nicola Bagalà

The Good Sides of Aging? – Article by Nicola Bagalà

Nicola Bagalà


Editor’s Note: Nicola Bagalà in this guest article elaborates upon aging as a topic distinguished in terms of Chronological Aging and Biological Aging. This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

~ Kenneth Alum, Director of Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, October 17, 2017

Sometimes, and especially in articles aimed at mitigating people’s fear of aging, it is said that aging doesn’t come just with downsides, such as frailty and diseases, but also with upsides — for example, wisdom and a long life experience.

It is often subtly implied that these two very different aspects are two sides of the same coin, that you can’t have one without the other, and perhaps even that the ill health of old age is a fair price to pay for the benefits that also come with it.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Setting the record straight

There are plenty of good reasons to be afraid of aging, because the diseases and disabilities it causes are very real and far from being observed only in exceptional cases. It would be foolish not to fear cancer, for example, because it is an extremely serious and often fatal condition; in the same way, and for the same reasons, it is foolish not to fear aging; perhaps, an even stronger fear is justified, because aging can and does give rise to many diseases, including cancer itself.

There’s nothing wrong with fearing aging, because it may help us steer clear from its inherent dangers, just like the fear of any other harmful thing keeps us away from it. This is true so long as by ‘aging’ we mean biological aging, which is not at all the same as chronological aging. It is very important to draw a line between the two so that we don’t end up accepting the downsides of the former, which are neither necessary nor sufficient to enjoy the benefits of the latter.

What’s the difference?

Chronological aging is a rather fancy term to indicate a very mundane thing, namely the passing of time. For as long as time will keep passing, everything will age chronologically. This is obviously a good thing because if time did not pass, the universe would stand still and nothing at all, including ourselves, would ever happen.

However, it is easy to see how chronological and biological aging are not the same thing by means of a simple observation: Although time runs essentially uniformly everywhere on Earth, different life forms have different health- and lifespans. If time passes at the same rate for me and for a cat, and yet I’m (biologically) old at age 80 while a cat is (biologically) old already at age 15, clearly there must be something else than just the passing of time that accounts for this discrepancy.

This ‘something else’ is metabolism—the intricate set of chemical reactions the bodies of living creatures perform on a daily basis for the very purpose of staying alive. As we have discussed in other articles, what we call biological aging is really just a process of damage accumulation; this damage, which eventually leads to pathologies, is caused by metabolism itself, and therefore a faster metabolism means faster aging. Different species have different metabolic rates; as a rule of thumb, the smaller the species, the faster its metabolism and thus its aging, leading to shorter health- and lifespan. This is, in a nutshell, why a cat ages faster than I do.

As a confirmation of this fact, one may observe that species in a regimen of caloric restriction tend to live longer (sometimes much longer) than their normal lifespan, and the insurgence of age-related diseases is delayed accordingly: A lower caloric intake causes metabolism to slow down; consequently, the aging process follows suit.

Interestingly, some lucky species, the so-called negligibly senescent organisms, don’t show any signs of biological aging at all with the passing of time.

At this point, you don’t have to be clairvoyant to see that biological aging implies chronological aging, but not vice-versa. No chronological aging means no time passing, and no time passing means nothing takes place, metabolism included. However, since different creatures age differently (or not at all) despite time passing at the same rate for all of them, chronological aging doesn’t imply biological aging. Quite simply, they’re not the same thing.

Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s

Having cleared the difference between chronological and biological aging, we must now correctly attribute the aforementioned pros and cons of old age to each of them.

From the very definition of biological aging above, it’s clear that it is the culprit responsible for the cons—the diseases of old age.

Speaking of the pros, all possible benefits of old age—life experience, wisdom, sense of accomplishment—certainly do not come from the damage that metabolism has wrecked throughout your body over the years. Clearly, they depend on the events of your life, and thus they’re not at all granted to happen, no matter how long you live. If you spent your life in isolation doing nothing, avoiding new experiences, and not learning anything new, your wisdom as an eighty-year-old would hardly compare to that of a well-traveled, seasoned scientist or philosopher of the same age, for example. Ultimately, the benefits traditionally attributed to old age obviously depend on the passing of time (i.e., chronological aging), and most of all on the use you made of your time. Just because you’re old, you’re not automatically wise, accomplished, or well-learned.

What’s more, the debilitation that comes with biological aging makes it harder for you to relish and expand the wisdom and experience you’ve accrued over the years. So, not only does biological aging bring no benefits; it is a hindrance as well.

In conclusion, the pros and cons of old age are due to different causes, and, as such, they aren’t interdependent. The diseases of old age are not a currency you can use to buy yourself the wisdom of the aged, and thanks to the emergence of rejuvenation biotechnologies, you might relatively soon be able to enjoy the pros of old age without having to pay any undue and unfair tolls.

 

About Nicola Bagalà

Nicola Bagalà has been an enthusiastic supporter and advocate of rejuvenation science since 2011. Although his preferred approach to treating age-related diseases is Aubrey de Grey’s suggested SENS platform, he is very interested in any other potential approach as well. In 2015, he launched the blog Rejuvenaction to advocate for rejuvenation and to answer common concerns that generally come with the prospect of vastly extended healthy lifespans. Originally a mathematician graduated from Helsinki University, his scientific interests range from cosmology to AI, from drawing and writing to music, and he always complains he doesn’t have enough time to dedicate to all of them—which is one of the reasons he’s into life extension. He’s also a computer programmer and web developer. All the years spent learning about the science of rejuvenation have sparked his interest in biology, in which he’s planning to get a university degree.

About LIFE EXTENSION ADVOCACY FOUNDATION (LEAF)

In 2014, the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation was established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting increased healthy human lifespan through fiscally sponsoring longevity research projects and raising awareness regarding the societal benefits of life extension. In 2015 they launched Lifespan.io, the first nonprofit crowdfunding platform focused on the biomedical research of aging.

They believe that this will enable the general public to influence the pace of research directly. To date they have successfully supported four research projects aimed at investigating different processes of aging and developing therapies to treat age-related diseases.

The LEAF team organizes educational events, takes part in different public and scientific conferences, and actively engages with the public on social media in order to help disseminate this crucial information. They initiate public dialogue aimed at regulatory improvement in the fields related to rejuvenation biotechnology.

America Is United Under One Flag – Article by Michael Dodd

America Is United Under One Flag – Article by Michael Dodd

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Michael Dodd


Editor’s Note: This guest article by Michael Dodd emphasizes the values of civility and respect which can help transcend the divides of contemporary American politics and bring the political conversation toward a focus on the universal good of Americans and of all humankind. The opinions in this article are Mr. Dodd’s own, but they are worth considering in the context of healing the tremendous and acrimonious rifts that have formed in American political activity, especially over the past two years. While the U.S. Transhumanist Party, per Article III, Section XX of its Constitution, strongly supports the right of peaceful free speech and protest – including the free speech and protest of those who criticize the United States, its flag, and certain policies of any level of government, as well as the free speech of those who choose not to partake in certain public rituals of support for the U.S. flag – the U.S. Transhumanist Party also holds as one of its Operating Principles “always pursuing its goals in a civil, law-abiding manner, respecting the legitimate rights of all persons” (Article I, Section III, Operating Principle 2). The U.S. flag can and should be seen as a symbol of the civility and respect that can and should characterize American political culture at its best, and also a symbol of the individual rights – including the right to dissent and criticize – which are fundamental founding values of the United States.  In an era when so many factions attempt to emphasize attributes that set us apart and against one another, it helps to have symbols that we can interpret to provide us common grounds for relating to one another in constructive and mutually beneficial ways. Per Article III, Section XXI, of our Constitution, the U.S. Transhumanist Party also strongly condemns and opposes police brutality and considers it unconscionable that many peaceful citizens have lost their lives to it. All Americans and all persons of conscience should support efforts to eradicate police brutality, including brutality driven by inexcusable racial bias as well as brutality that arises from police following poorly designed “standard operating procedure”.  

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, September 28, 2017


The politics of fear and hate has united against the Flag of America.

The crux of the issue is police brutality, on a particular segment of the American population. It does not help that the law of our great land has lacked the will, and honor to bring some of those rogue police officers to justice. On an overall basis, this is a political and social issue that can be handled in a more positive and productive way that benefits all segments of the American population.

Currently you have a group of rich people, some millionaires, some billionaires, looking to force change by disrespecting what unites all Americans, and that is our flag. America is made up of many people, with diverse backgrounds and cultures. We come together as Americans by what holds us together, and that is our Flag and our Country. Our Flag, Our Banner is what unites all of the various people who live in the great empire of America.

The politics of fear and hate has a target and it is our Flag. It is also wrapped up in rights as well. Everything in this day and age is based on “me”. I have the right to do whatever, whenever because it is what “I” want to do.

You have a “right” to take a knee during the National Anthem – yes, you do. You have the “right” to do many things. What about having the respect not to do those things?

Notice how the mainstream media and the politics of fear and hate, never mention the word “respect”.  Everything is about “What are my rights?” What I say is, “How about having respect for a larger group of people who believe that you should respect the Flag and our Nation?”

You will never hear the people pushing fear and hate use the word “respect”, because it does not fit into that political agenda. The negative politics needs a thing to point at and blame; our Flag, and our great Nation, are that thing. The people who are pushing fear and hate need you to believe that the problem is you, and you should bow to the will of fear and hate.

They need you to believe that disrespecting the flag and nation is the right course of action. What I am telling you is that is a damn lie of damn lies. Our great nation has problems, and it has serious problems; we are a divided nation, and we show it every single day. Our Flag, and our Nation, are the best things that could have happened to our world, and the majority of Americans need to take that reality to the people who are pushing fear and hate and pointing at a Flag that they fear.

America has problems; the one problem that we do not have is Our Flag, Our Anthem, and Our Grand Experiment of a Nation. I am an American, I believe in Our Great Flag, I believe in Our Great Nation, and I believe in the Good Will Of Our People. 

I am an American, and I will choose to Honor Our Flag and Our Nation.

I hope that Americans will choose to do the same thing.  

Michael Dodd is the owner and editor of the Wave Chronicle and MPDSports.com

Directed Duties and Inalienable Rights: A Brief Summary – Article by Daniel Yeluashvili

Directed Duties and Inalienable Rights: A Brief Summary – Article by Daniel Yeluashvili

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Daniel Yeluashvili


Editor’s Note: This guest article by Daniel Yeluashvili is being published in order to further discussion on the nature of rights and how rights might look in the future. It does not, however, represent any official position of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. We recognize that different members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party may approach the subject of rights, and whether inalienable rights exist, from a wide variety of philosophical frameworks and backgrounds. 

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, September 14, 2017


“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These words were written by our Founding Fathers in 1776, on a document that, despite having no binding legal powers of its own, has not only served as a touchstone of hundreds of legal cases in America but inspired subsequent Documents of Freedom to be written, namely, the Constitution and appended Bill of Rights. However, contemporary political philosopher Hillel Steiner has upended the foundation of America’s moral codex in his essay “Directed Duties and Inalienable Rights” by positing, nimbly but firmly, that inalienable rights do not and cannot exist. Therefore, no aspect of American laws or rights comes from a God of any kind, in direct contradiction to much of the fundamentalist rhetoric heard throughout America today. Steiner proves this point in three ways: first, by deriving his conclusion from the presupposition of the cogency of the Will Theory of rights, second, by doing the same from the Interest Theory, and third, casually proving that he never needed to work with either theory in the first place and constructing an independent argument he calls the Moral Primacy Thesis. This thesis is derived from the work of Wesley Hohfeld, a prominent legal theorist who used a form of logic designed for ethical concepts to prove that nobody has an inherent “right,” in the conventional sense, to anything.

Steiner begins his argument with the Will Theory, a legal theory of moral rights supported by philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Carl von Savigny, and Steiner himself. The Will Theory, given its emphasis on granting rights through the power of personal choice, grants the power to demand and force someone to perform an action or, alternatively, willingly give up the right to make that demand in the first place. Per the Will Theory, nobody’s rights can forcibly be taken away, but they can be voided through one’s own inaction or inability to make a choice. By its very definition, inalienable rights within the framework of the Will Theory cannot exist.

By contrast, the Interest Theory takes a different approach. Championed by the likes of notable philosopher Jeremy Bentham, the Interest Theory suggests that rights exist solely to protect one’s personal interests rather than to exert liberty or choice of any kind. While such rights can’t be given up as easily as within the framework of the Will Theory, Steiner makes the case that, per the second page of the attached essay, “a necessary and sufficient condition of being a rights-holder is that those interests would be adversely affected by the breach of a duty.” A duty, in this context, refers to whichever demand one make make of someone else. If you demand of someone, for example, that they not look at your browser history to protect the interest of hiding your mind-uploading memes from the world and they do it anyway, this would be a breach of a duty on their behalf. This is no better than the Will Theory: instead of personally rescinding one’s rights through incompetence, now they can be taken away by others. Once again, no rights within this framework would be genuinely inalienable.

After so clearly formulating two arguments against the existence of inalienable rights, Steiner throws them out the window by constructing a new one entirely: the Moral Primacy Thesis. This thesis is based on Hohfeldian deontic logic, a system of logic designed for ethical concepts which, ipso facto, does not universally guarantee a right without the possibility of said right being taken away. The four most basic types of rights that Hohfeld defines are powers, immunities, privileges, and claims. Privileges give access to something without guaranteeing the safety and stability of said privilege, meaning that they are ephemeral and may be taken away at any time. A more stable version of privileges would be claims, which restrict others from gaining the same access that is guaranteed by one’s privileges. Claims can be countered in two ways, by oneself or others, one in the short term and one in the long term. The short-term counter to a claim is a power, which waives, annuls, or transfers said claim. The long-term counter to a claim, which prevents it from being modified in the future, is an immunity. Even by this logic, no rights are inherently inalienable. If they were, such a legal concept would be politically omnipotent and illogical. Thus, no aspect of America’s ostensibly “God-given rights” has any bearing on political philosophy or moral theory.

Daniel Yeluashvili is a student at San Francisco State University and a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

A Future History of Mankind: Speculations of a Clever Ape – Article by Michael Hanson

A Future History of Mankind: Speculations of a Clever Ape – Article by Michael Hanson

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Michael Hanson


Long ago and very, VERY far away, the universe that we find ourselves in today was born. For billions of years, the universe has been completely inhospitable to life as we understand it. This remains the case today throughout much of the known universe, including right here in what we have come to believe is a “safe haven” for us.

Yes, the Earth that gave birth to us appears to be safe – for now. It is clearly much more hospitable to life than even the space just beyond our atmosphere. Make no mistake, however – danger lurks at every corner. Gamma rays from exploding stars millions of light years away; massive solar flares from our own beloved star; planet-obliterating asteroids; sociopathic world leaders armed to the teeth with megaton warheads; and superintelligent robots gone mad are just a few potential threats to the survival of life on this tiny speck of nothing floating in a vast ocean of cold indifference.

Have no fear, though. One of these things is not like the others. It could be the reverse of what we imagine it to be; it very well could be our saving grace.

“Superintelligence.” A term coined to describe the future of man-made technology. It is essentially the natural outcome of the very thing that makes us human: our deep-seated need to understand and master our surroundings. For millions of years now, mankind has made a somewhat steady march towards this goal.

We now stand on the brink of The Singularity – the point in spacetime where humans will be able to integrate the culmination of their millions-of-years-long pursuit of knowledge directly into their physiology. The benefits of this unspeakably beautiful possibility are immeasurable, and yet most of us fear it as much as – or more than – any other event imaginable.

Whether we fear it or not, The Singularity is inevitable. We would not be humans if we collectively decided to stop understanding and mastering our surroundings. If we somehow manage to dodge all of the other doomsday scenarios, we WILL see The Singularity come to fruition.

While it is extremely difficult to speculate what life will be like post-Singularity, it seems silly to think that life will remain as it is now. When every snot-nosed toddler has direct access to computational power exponentially greater than Albert Einstein could have ever hoped to have, diseases – including old age – will be a morbid footnote in the annals of spacetime. When the Neil deGrasse Tysons and Elon Musks of the world have instantaneous access to the accumulated knowledge of the last few hundred years, and the ability to research and master any subject in milliseconds, we will have very few problems.

It is likely that, with our new capabilities, humans will cease to be what we think of as humans altogether. We will be transhumans, a forced step forward in the evolutionary process. Once we transcend evolution, we transcend nature. In essence, we become “supernatural beings” – gods in our own right.

Where does this path lead us, and what does it mean for the “inhospitable” universe out there? Will we conquer “the final frontier” with our god-like powers? This also seems inevitable.

Imagine if we had the ability to “upload” our consciousnesses onto tiny, nearly weightless microchips. The problem of escaping this doomed planet seems ridiculously simple at that point. With no bodies requiring nourishment, being subject to radiation poisoning, or even weighing a spaceship down, it would be extraordinarily easy to transport thousands of sentient beings across vast expanses of spacetime in a vessel no larger than a modern automobile. With no threat of death due to the passage of time, the only real threat at that point is collision with comets and the like.

What would our problems be without any real threat of death? The scarcity of energy comes to mind. Without energy, everything dies. In space, the temperature is near Absolute Zero. This means that energy is NOT abundant, at least not in any form that we’re used to utilizing.

In fact, there is a finite amount of useable energy in the universe. It seems inevitable that our next great mission after The Singularity is to find useable energy throughout the universe and maximize its utility. We will view the destruction of useable energy as the greatest waste imaginable, similar to how we view the wasting of time now. Alas, before The Singularity, we are forced to view time as the most precious resource because we are tragically bound to expiration dates. When time is no longer a hindrance, energy will become vastly more precious.

What then, would be our likely solution to the need to collect and conserve as much energy as possible? Visions of stars wrapped in energy nets, and entire planets converted into generators dance in the head. Eventually, we may even convert entire solar systems, then galaxies, into energy farms to feed our superintelligent descendants. With the conversion of the energy of entire galaxies into fuel for self-evolving gods, all connected through an intergalactic internet which obliterates our notion of a separate “self,” it would not be long before the entire universe is made up of a single, omnipotent, omnipresent being.

It is possible that the end result of the universe is what we call “God.” This is the transposition of the Alpha and the Omega. It is possible that, rather than the universe being created by a supreme being, the opposite is true: the universe could be the womb wherein a supreme being is gestating.

In the end, it seems silly to worry about the “consequences” of our technological advances. Either way, we are destined for eradication in our present form. Whether by our own doing, or simply because the universe is indifferent to our desire to survive, the human race will eventually come to an end. Why not utilize the very essence of our species to escape this fate? What have we really got to lose in the end?

And they all lived happily ever after…

Michael Hanson founded the Transhumanist Research and Support Foundation and endeavors to assist the Transhumanist Party’s efforts in New Hampshire. 

Copyright 2017 Live and Live Free Media, LLC

The Riots in Charlottesville and the Prevention of Violence – Article by Gennady Stolyarov II

The Riots in Charlottesville and the Prevention of Violence – Article by Gennady Stolyarov II

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Gennady Stolyarov II


Note: The observations in this article are offered in a personal capacity, although I consider them to be consistent with the United States Transhumanist Party Platform, particularly Article III, Sections II and XL of our Constitution, which directly oppose many of the mentalities and ideologies of hate and intolerance that precipitated the violence in Charlottesville. ~ Gennady Stolyarov II, August 31, 2017

I admire the courage of Ford Fischer, who reported the events of the Charlottesville street riots directly from the scene and obtained close-up, highly informative documentary footage regarding the tragic events that transpired. He was even a victim of collateral damage; some of the pepper spray aimed at the fascist marchers instead found its way to him.

I recommend that everyone watch his 23-minute documentary in order to have a better understanding of the facts on the ground.

My impressions, based on Mr. Fischer’s reporting, are that the entire situation was a volatile powder keg – with tempers running high and many regrettably radicalized, armed, and incensed demonstrators looking for a fight. “Who started it” was often difficult to discern in the various brawls – although clearly the murder was committed by a detestable and ruthless alt-right white supremacist. More generally, though, past a certain point, once the violence is in full swing, distinguishing between legitimate self-defense and the initiation of force becomes nearly impossible in the din and chaos (a confusion readily taken advantage of by opportunistic fanatics who relish violence).

This is why, to the extent possible, the infrastructure of society should be configured to prevent such “powder keg” situations from emerging in the first place. Once civil discourse (which could include heated but peaceful and polite debate) is replaced with the shouting of expletives and threats by lines of armed rioters, it only takes one particularly unhinged individual to commit an atrocity. Most people, I hold, are decent and inclined toward peaceful behavior; this probably included most protesters – even on the alt-right side (who probably just wanted to hear their leaders speak). However, events such as these necessarily attract the minority of persons who temperamentally crave violence – and those people, irrespective of ideology, rile up the rest until the chaos is uncontrollable. For them, ideology is epiphenomenal, and violence is an end in itself.

In the immediate moment, police should have taken a more active role in separating the demonstrators. The right of free speech, even obnoxious or heinous speech, should be protected as long as it remains speech only. However, there is no reason for “in your face” confrontations between two incensed opposing sides. Mr. Fischer noted that the police initially took a largely “hands-off” attitude with respect to brawls. This was a mistake on the police’s part; each brawl constitutes assault and battery – criminal acts. Both the protest and counter-protest might have ended peacefully had a line of police remained between the opposing sides at all times. What was interesting is that a contingent of private militiamen was also present and impartial, desiring only to keep the peace and aid those who were injured. There is a role for this kind of citizen initiative (but only to keep the peace, and only to help), and I wonder if this might be part of the solution for future events where the police fail to protect life and property.

In the long-term, though, what is required is a revival of cultural standards of decency and tolerance in discourse – the prizing of civility and the search for constructive common ground, rather than the complete denunciation and demonization of those who disagree with one’s point of view. Because of deteriorating norms of conduct and a toxic media culture that has fomented political insults as entertainment, we have reached a crisis point where too many people have become radicalized beyond the condition where they even recognize that common ground might exist. So they try to beat one another with sticks instead of beating one another in debate. But words can still work. Words can change the culture – not right away, but with enough perseverance. This will be the work of decent persons who abhor violence and desire for precious lives and infrastructure to be preserved.

Gennady Stolyarov II is Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party. Find out more about Mr. Stolyarov here.

The Cure For Everything – Article by Nicholas Huerta

The Cure For Everything – Article by Nicholas Huerta

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Nicholas Huerta


Note from the Editor: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this article by the student writer Nicholas Huerta to illustrate the growing interest in the transhumanist movement among college and university students. While the positions in this article are not necessarily the positions of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, there are some similarities, and the article is intended to provoke thinking and discussion about how to motivate transformations in societal attitudes toward the embrace of emerging technologies. ~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, U.S. Transhumanist Party, July 26, 2017

If you or a loved one had cancer and someone offered you the cure, would you take it? Colloquial society would answer “yes”. Cancer is one of the many problems facing our society today. Other such problems include socioeconomic issues, hunger, natural disasters, climate change, and inept leaders leading an inept society. Through our research, we hope to show society what true epistemology entails and the realm of possibilities it opens up for the advancement of mankind. The scientific method (SM) is the closest we can get to determining truth, which is substantiated by thinking about another method. Attempting to disprove the SM would require its use, resulting in circular reasoning. The SM can be of great value to humanity outside of traditional science. Using data to support or reject a claim should be used throughout society. Life must observe the environment in order to survive and humans are conscious beings, with the capacity to think about these observations more so than other species. Since the dawn of the scientific age 400 years ago, society has been against science (observe the opposition to facts regarding 4.5 billion-year-old earth, heliocentrism, round earth, genetically modified organisms, and climate change, to name a few). I have not yet discovered the reason for this, but it may be due to many people’s inability to comprehend the scientific method, which ultimately results in changing conclusions / truths / beliefs based off of ever-changing data and observations. This means the SM is rather progressive in nature, and many people tend to dislike change or unfamiliarity. Many scholars will say the SM does not yield truth, but simply provides data to confirm or reject a hypothesis with an infinite number of null hypotheses. A truth entails no change. I posit that the SM yields objective facts. It may also be due to a group of powerful individuals suppressing society similar to the way the Catholic Church (and historical societies in general) condemned new scientific ideas, such as heliocentrism, rather than test them. They are not particularly suppressing science, but rather epistemology. For example, governments do this to citizens through lack of transparency, which hinders data collection (Snowden and WikiLeaks are glimmering examples). Contemporary society fails to realize how far modern science has gotten our species in the last 400 years, and especially in the last 20 years, while we enjoy the comforts of being able to walk into a store and buy food rather than hunt for it.

The SM has brought us civilization, democracy, farming, and industry. How do we know the scientific method works? Richard Dawkins put it very simply when he said, “Planes fly, cars drive, computers compute. If you base medicine on science, you cure people. If you base the design of rockets on science, they reach the moon. It works.” Does it not make sense to build policy and beliefs using the same methods scientists use to test their ideas? If it was not for the SM, we would still be hunting and gathering, living like wild animals (which also use the SM in a much more primitive manner) in a much harsher lifestyle. However, we enjoy comforts of technology so we do not have to live how biological evolution forged us to live. This is posing a whole new set of problems because natural biological processes necessary to survive in the wild as hunter-gatherers are not physiologically active, or, are overactive in modern human bodies, leading to disease and death (diabetes, obesity, coronary artery disease, etc.). Cultural evolution is now playing a major role in shaping the population and will lead us to reach (or not reach) a Type I, and eventually, a Type III society on the Kardashev scale. Our goal is to use artificial selection to cure society of its problems and push past parochialism to a species that can utilize the SM to solve any problem. We hope to show every person the epistemological capabilities of the SM. Essentially the emphasis is placed in current brain power and neuroplasticity.

We have recently concluded that current leaders, along with general society, are incompetent. This is exemplified by holding conservative (unchanging) beliefs and placing time and effort into dangerous and short-sighted pursuits that have implications of ultimately damaging society (climate-change denial, war, exclusive focus on fossil fuels, nuclear weapons, localization, intolerance to valid beliefs). This has led contemporary societies to have unchanging, yet solvable problems. Change must occur for society to advance and for problem-solving to take place. Imagine if all of humankind held unchanging beliefs and were unable to mold their beliefs based on ever-changing observations and data. We would be stuck in the Dark Ages! It is clear that contemporary societies generate prevailing notions of truth from opinions and closed-mindedness rather than obtaining data and reaching valid conclusions. The SM can advance society because it is progressive to its core. It leads to conclusions being reached from evidence and the ability to change conclusions based off of current data and statistical analysis. The SM also relies on peer review. Peer review is an essential component because the same conclusions are true for everyone in regards to data leading to said conclusions. This integral peer-review component prevents data from being fabricated by individuals with special interests. Imagine where society would be if everyone was capable of utilizing the scientific method, and the only factor influencing policy and beliefs was truth (as close as we can get to it). This would be a world where astrophysicists who truly understand the devastation that can occur from nuclear weapons held nuclear launch codes, rather than a politician who has no understanding of basic nuclear principles. This would be a world where factual climate change was widely accepted and people realized mass extinctions have occurred multiple times throughout geologic history. This would be a world where every individual understood our atmosphere is forever changing, where people understand Homo sapiens are not the pinnacle of intelligence, where more money was spent on research rather than defense and war, where people were not constantly consuming carcinogenic “food” and foods contributing to obesity and disease, where someone who has a disease would be researching primary literature to try and find a cure. I have become recently concerned, because as I have been exposed to the world, I see age-old problems that should have been solved long before now, but unchanging beliefs have prevented problem-solving. The past is the present, the present is the present, and the future is the present.

I have always dreamed of creating something meaningful for society and to contribute to our species in an altruistic (or selfish, according to Dawkins) manner, minutely comparable to Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, Watson, Crick, Mendel, and other great thinkers. Through my understanding of modern science, I know what we are capable of as a species (interplanetary travel, sustainable energy, life expectancy of 150+ years, curing genetic diseases, ending animal farms – to name a few achievements possible in the next 10 years). It is blatantly obvious that our advancement into the next great technological age, free of ignorance and solvable problems, is hindered due to corrupt, inept policy makers and an inept population that does not use epistemology to solve problems. This claim is most heavily supported by contemporary society’s reliance on oil, even though the data shows it contributes to climate change that can be detrimental to our species (sulfur dioxide and respiratory problems, nitrous oxides and smog, carbon dioxide and global warming). It can most literally kill us. We rely on this unsustainable product while there are many alternatives being suppressed by the hold Big Oil has on government (it was the 6th-largest lobbying industry in US from 1998 to 2016). It is utter ignorance to believe we need oil for transportation when entities are obtaining successful results using solar energy, wind energy, hydrogen energy, electric energy, and electromagnetic energy (EM Drive, Hyperloop One). I do not blame the policy makers or society for their current predicament. Man does not see things because “he himself is standing in the way: he conceals things” (Nietzsche). My posit, known as Ant Theory, is supported by Nietzsche’s quote. Ant Theory suggests that humans are not capable of comprehending or observing all of the current phenomena in the universe. Would we spend time trying to teach arithmetic to ants? No! They are clearly not capable! It is important for humans to realize this about our species and then realize what humanity is still capable of. We are not the pinnacle of life. Evolution has forged many great organisms, some of which are better than humans at tasks such as memorization or detecting sound or light. Humans today are a product of not only Darwinian evolution, but also cultural evolution based in ignorance, money, greed, and false promises. Through my pursuits, I hope only to convince you of the importance of the SM and that the failure of utilizing it results ultimately in death of our species. We are the most powerful species because of our ability to solve problems. However, we see people and politicians avoiding the SM day in and day out when they spout off incoherent claims with no evidence for support. The first part of the SM is already done for us. Everyone observes the problems plaguing society. We simply need to hypothesize why these problems occur and then experiment with different ways to solve these problems. Only by obtaining data to support conclusions and hypotheses will these problems ultimately be solved.

The cure for cancer is out there, we just need a society willing to use the scientific method to find it. We need to pursue endeavors that advance our species. It starts with education and learning how to reach valid conclusions and make decisions based on observation and analysis. I am not advocating for all of the population to study science. I am advocating for the population to use what science has given us – hypothesizing about current problems and using evidence-based reasoning in reaching conclusions about these problems. I am advocating for the importance of the scientific method in everyday life and the importance of using it to solve the world’s problems. Martine Rothblatt is a visionary whose child was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Through her resources (she held no background in biology), she was able to create a cure and save her child. Imagine allocating resources towards studying societal problems and finding solutions, towards technology, towards finding cures and placing people on Mars. We should be reaching for the longevity escape velocity, not perpetuating unnecessary issues such as war, walls, and exclusive reliance on oil, which cause a myriad of other problems. Racism was law just 60 years ago; what will society look back on 60 years from today and be ashamed of? It takes visionaries who truly believe in the capabilities of the human species to lead and show laymen what we are capable of. It takes visionaries influenced by hope and facts to make policies, which ultimately fosters the societal change required to make these advances. Human nature has led our society into many of our problems. Using the SM, we must transcend human nature and reach our true potential! The adoption of this philosophy comes with many implications I have only begun to ponder. However, if adopted, this philosophy would lead humankind into the next great age of peace, technology and creation.

Nicholas Huerta is a student at California State University – Sacramento, who is studying cellular and molecular biology, chemistry, and philosophy. Mr. Huerta can be contacted here