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Contra Robert Shiller on Cryptocurrencies – Article by Adam Alonzi

Contra Robert Shiller on Cryptocurrencies – Article by Adam Alonzi

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Adam Alonzi


While warnings of caution can be condoned without much guilt, my concern is critiques like Dr. Shiller’s (which he has since considerably softened) will cause some value-oriented investors to completely exclude cryptocurrencies and related assets from their portfolios. I will not wax poetically about the myriad of forms money has assumed across the ages, because it is already well-covered by more than one rarely read treatise. It should be said, though it may not need to be, that a community’s preferred medium of exchange is not arbitrary. The immovable wheels of Micronesia met the needs of their makers just as digital stores of value like Bitcoin will serve the sprawling financial archipelagos of tomorrow. This role will be facilitated by the ability of blockchains not just to store transactions, but to enforce the governing charter agreed upon by their participants.

Tokens are abstractions, a convenient means of allotting ownership. Bradley Rivetz, a venture capitalist, puts it like this: “everything that can be tokenized will be tokenized the Empire State Building will someday be tokenized, I’ll buy 1% of the Empire State Building, I’ll get every day credited to my wallet 1% of the rents minus expenses, I can borrow against my Empire State Building holding and if I want to sell the Empire State Building I hit a button and I instantly have the money.” Bitcoin and its unmodified copycats do not derive their value from anything tangible. However, this is not the case for all crypto projects. Supporters tout its deflationary design (which isn’t much of an advantage when there is no value to deflate), its modest transaction fees, the fact it is not treated as a currency by most tax codes (this is changing and liable to continue changing), and the relative anonymity it offers.  

The fact that Bitcoin is still considered an asset in most jurisdictions is a strength. This means that since Bitcoin is de facto intermediary on most exchanges (most pairs are expressed in terms of BTC or a major fiat, many solely in BTC), one can buy and sell other tokens freely without worrying about capital gains taxes, which turn what should be wholly pleasurable into something akin to an ice cream sundae followed by a root canal. This applies to sales and corporate income taxes as well. A company like Walmart, despite its gross income, relies on a slender profit margin to appease its shareholders. While I’m not asking you to weep for the Waltons, I am asking you to think about the incentives for a company to begin experimenting with its own tax-free tokens as a means of improving customer spending power and building brand loyalty.

How many coins will be needed and, for that matter, how many niches they will be summoned to fill, remains unknown.  In his lecture on real estate Dr. Shiller mentions the Peruvian economist Hernando De Soto’s observation about the lack of accounting for most of the land in the world.  Needless to say, for these areas to advance economically, or any way for that matter, it is important to establish who owns what. Drafting deeds, transferring ownership of properties or other goods, and managing the laws of districts where local authorities are unreliable or otherwise impotent are services that are best provided by an inviolable ledger. In the absence of a central body, this responsibility will be assumed by blockchain. Projects like BitNation are bringing the idea of decentralized governance to the masses; efforts like Octaneum are beginning to integrate blockchain technology with multi-trillion dollar commodities markets.

As more than one author has contended, information is arguably the most precious resource of the twenty first century. It it is hardly scarce, but analysis is as vital to making sound decisions. Augur and Gnosis provide decentralized prediction markets. The latter, Kristin Houser describes it, is a platform used “to create a prediction market for any event, such as the Super Bowl or an art auction.” Philip Tetlock’s book on superforecasting covers the key advantages of crowdsourcing economic and geopolitical forecasting, namely accuracy and cost-effectiveness. Blockchains will not only generate data, but also assist in making sense of it.  While it is just a historical aside, it is good to remember that money, as Tymoigne and Wray (2006) note, was originally devised as a means of recording debt. Hazel sticks with notches preceded the first coins by hundreds of years. Money began as a unit of accounting, not a store of value.

MelonPort and Iconomi both allow anyone to start their own investment funds. Given that it is “just” software is the beauty of it: these programs can continue to be improved upon  indefinitely. If the old team loses its vim, the project can easily be forked. Where is crypto right now and why does it matter? There is a tendency for academics (and ordinary people) to think of things in the real world as static objects existing in some kind of Platonic heaven. This is a monumental mistake when dealing with an adaptive system, or in this case, a series of immature, interlocking, and rapidly evolving ecosystems. We have seen the first bloom – some pruning too – and as clever people find new uses for the underlying technology, particularly in the area of IoT and other emerging fields, we will see another bloom. The crypto bubble has come and gone, but the tsunami, replete with mature products with explicit functions, is just starting to take shape.

In the long run Warren Buffett, Shiller, and the rest will likely be right about Bitcoin itself, which has far fewer features than more recent arrivals. Its persisting relevance comes from brand recognition and the fact that most of the crypto infrastructure was built with it in mind. As the first comer it will remain the reserve currency of the crypto world.  It is nowhere near reaching any sort of hard cap. The total amount invested in crypto is still minuscule compared to older markets. Newcomers, unaware or wary of even well-established projects like Ethereum and Litecoin, will at first invest in what they recognize. Given that the barriers to entry (access to an Internet connection and a halfway-decent computer or phone) are set to continue diminishing, including in countries in which the fiat currency is unstable, demand should only be expected to climb.

Adam Alonzi is a writer, biotechnologist, documentary maker, futurist, inventor, programmer, and author of the novels A Plank in Reason and Praying for Death: A Zombie Apocalypse. He is an analyst for the Millennium Project, the Head Media Director for BioViva Sciences, and Editor-in-Chief of Radical Science News. Listen to his podcasts here. Read his blog here.

Review of Frank Pasquale’s “A Rule of Persons, Not Machines: The Limits of Legal Automation” – Article by Adam Alonzi

Review of Frank Pasquale’s “A Rule of Persons, Not Machines: The Limits of Legal Automation” – Article by Adam Alonzi

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Adam Alonzi


From the beginning Frank Pasquale, author of The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information, contends in his new paper “A Rule of Persons, Not Machines: The Limits of Legal Automation” that software, given its brittleness, is not designed to deal with the complexities of taking a case through court and establishing a verdict. As he understands it, an AI cannot deviate far from the rules laid down by its creator. This assumption, which is not even quite right at the present time, only slightly tinges an otherwise erudite, sincere, and balanced coverage of the topic. He does not show much faith in the use of past cases to create datasets for the next generation of paralegals, automated legal services, and, in the more distant future, lawyers and jurists.

Lawrence Zelanik has noted that when taxes were filed entirely on paper, provisions were limited to avoid unreasonably imposing irksome nuances on the average person. Tax-return software has eliminated this “complexity constraint.” He goes on to state that without this the laws, and the software that interprets it, are akin to a “black box” for those who must abide by them. William Gale has said taxes could be easily computed for “non-itemizers.” In other words, the government could use information it already has to present a “bill” to this class of taxpayers, saving time and money for all parties involved. However, simplification does not always align with everyone’s interests. TurboTax’s business, which is built entirely on helping ordinary people navigate the labyrinth is the American federal income tax, noticed a threat to its business model. This prompted it to put together a grassroots campaign to fight such measures. More than just another example of a business protecting its interests, it is an ominous foreshadowing of an escalation scenario that will transpire in many areas if and when legal AI becomes sufficiently advanced.  

Pasquale writes: “Technologists cannot assume that computational solutions to one problem will not affect the scope and nature of that problem. Instead, as technology enters fields, problems change, as various parties seek to either entrench or disrupt aspects of the present situation for their own advantage.”

What he is referring to here, in everything but name, is an arms race. The vastly superior computational powers of robot lawyers may make the already perverse incentive to make ever more Byzantine rules ever more attractive to bureaucracies and lawyers. The concern is that the clauses and dependencies hidden within contracts will quickly explode, making them far too detailed even for professionals to make sense of in a reasonable amount of time. Given that this sort of software may become a necessary accoutrement in most or all legal matters means that the demand for it, or for professionals with access to it, will expand greatly at the expense of those who are unwilling or unable to adopt it. This, though Pasquale only hints at it, may lead to greater imbalances in socioeconomic power. On the other hand, he does not consider the possibility of bottom-up open-source (or state-led) efforts to create synthetic public defenders. While this may seem idealistic, it is fairly clear that the open-source model can compete with and, in some areas, outperform proprietary competitors.

It is not unlikely that within subdomains of law that an array of arms races can and will arise between synthetic intelligences. If a lawyer knows its client is guilty, should it squeal? This will change the way jurisprudence works in many countries, but it would seem unwise to program any robot to knowingly lie about whether a crime, particularly a serious one, has been committed – including by omission. If it is fighting against a punishment it deems overly harsh for a given crime, for trespassing to get a closer look at a rabid raccoon or unintentional jaywalking, should it maintain its client’s innocence as a means to an end? A moral consequentialist, seeing no harm was done (or in some instances, could possibly have been done), may persist in pleading innocent. A synthetic lawyer may be more pragmatic than deontological, but it is not entirely correct, and certainly shortsighted, to (mis)characterize AI as only capable of blindly following a set of instructions, like a Fortran program made to compute the nth member of the Fibonacci series.

Human courts are rife with biases: judges give more lenient sentences after taking a lunch break (65% more likely to grant parole – nothing to spit at), attractive defendants are viewed favorably by unwashed juries and trained jurists alike, and the prejudices of all kinds exist against various “out” groups, which can tip the scales in favor of a guilty verdict or to harsher sentences. Why then would someone have an aversion to the introduction of AI into a system that is clearly ruled, in part, by the quirks of human psychology?  

DoNotPay is an an app that helps drivers fight parking tickets. It allows drivers with legitimate medical emergencies to gain exemptions. So, as Pasquale says, not only will traffic management be automated, but so will appeals. However, as he cautions, a flesh-and-blood lawyer takes responsibility for bad advice. The DoNotPay not only fails to take responsibility, but “holds its client responsible for when its proprietor is harmed by the interaction.” There is little reason to think machines would do a worse job of adhering to privacy guidelines than human beings unless, as mentioned in the example of a machine ratting on its client, there is some overriding principle that would compel them to divulge the information to protect several people from harm if their diagnosis in some way makes them as a danger in their personal or professional life. Is the client responsible for the mistakes of the robot it has hired? Should the blame not fall upon the firm who has provided the service?

Making a blockchain that could handle the demands of processing purchases and sales, one that takes into account all the relevant variables to make expert judgements on a matter, is no small task. As the infamous disagreement over the meaning of the word “chicken” in Frigaliment v. B.N.S International Sales Group illustrates, the definitions of what anything is can be a bit puzzling. The need to maintain a decent reputation to maintain sales is a strong incentive against knowingly cheating customers, but although cheating tends to be the exception for this reason, it is still necessary to protect against it. As one official on the  Commodity Futures Trading Commission put it, “where a smart contract’s conditions depend upon real-world data (e.g., the price of a commodity future at a given time), agreed-upon outside systems, called oracles, can be developed to monitor and verify prices, performance, or other real-world events.”  

Pasquale cites the SEC’s decision to force providers of asset-backed securities to file “downloadable source code in Python.” AmeriCredit responded by saying it  “should not be forced to predict and therefore program every possible slight iteration of all waterfall payments” because its business is “automobile loans, not software development.” AmeriTrade does not seem to be familiar with machine learning. There is a case for making all financial transactions and agreements explicit on an immutable platform like blockchain. There is also a case for making all such code open source, ready to be scrutinized by those with the talents to do so or, in the near future, by those with access to software that can quickly turn it into plain English, Spanish, Mandarin, Bantu, Etruscan, etc.

During the fallout of the 2008 crisis, some homeowners noticed the entities on their foreclosure paperwork did not match the paperwork they received when their mortgages were sold to a trust. According to Dayen (2010) many banks did not fill out the paperwork at all. This seems to be a rather forceful argument in favor of the incorporation of synthetic agents into law practices. Like many futurists Pasquale foresees an increase in “complementary automation.” The cooperation of chess engines with humans can still trounce the best AI out there. This is a commonly cited example of how two (very different) heads are better than one.  Yet going to a lawyer is not like visiting a tailor. People, including fairly delusional ones, know if their clothes fit. Yet they do not know whether they’ve received expert counsel or not – although, the outcome of the case might give them a hint.

Pasquale concludes his paper by asserting that “the rule of law entails a system of social relationships and legitimate governance, not simply the transfer and evaluation of information about behavior.” This is closely related to the doubts expressed at the beginning of the piece about the usefulness of data sets in training legal AI. He then states that those in the legal profession must handle “intractable conflicts of values that repeatedly require thoughtful discretion and negotiation.” This appears to be the legal equivalent of epistemological mysterianism. It stands on still shakier ground than its analogue because it is clear that laws are, or should be, rooted in some set of criteria agreed upon by the members of a given jurisdiction. Shouldn’t the rulings of law makers and the values that inform them be at least partially quantifiable? There are efforts, like EthicsNet, which are trying to prepare datasets and criteria to feed machines in the future (because they will certainly have to be fed by someone!).  There is no doubt that the human touch in law will not be supplanted soon, but the question is whether our intuition should be exalted as guarantee of fairness or a hindrance to moving beyond a legal system bogged down by the baggage of human foibles.

Adam Alonzi is a writer, biotechnologist, documentary maker, futurist, inventor, programmer, and author of the novels A Plank in Reason and Praying for Death: A Zombie Apocalypse. He is an analyst for the Millennium Project, the Head Media Director for BioViva Sciences, and Editor-in-Chief of Radical Science News. Listen to his podcasts here. Read his blog here.

Five Tangible Steps We Can Take in 2018 to Reach Indefinite Longevity – Article by Bobby Ridge

Five Tangible Steps We Can Take in 2018 to Reach Indefinite Longevity – Article by Bobby Ridge

Bobby Ridge


You may have finally just discovered this most important conversation, or you may be a transhumanist veteran. When I research others’ attempts to articulate Transhumanism, I observe that they tend to either discuss the intangible philosophy, or they will offer an hour plus of hard science. The purpose of this article is to provide 5 tangible ways in which right now you can get involved with Transhumanism and take real steps towards extending your healthy lifespan.

I am not a doctor, so I am not providing medical advice. It is recommended that any person considering significant health-related decisions take into account his or her personal circumstances and consult a knowledgeable medical professional. I am merely a normal guy providing some salient information I have discovered during my Transhumanist journey. Here are the 5 tangible ways some of us might, in the appropriate circumstances, extend our healthy lifespans right now:

  1. Whole genome sequencing
  2. Stem-cell therapy
  3. Sign the international ban on AI weaponry
  4. Become a member of Transhumanist organizations
  5. Cryonics

There are other tangible ways to extend our healthy lifespans right now, but these are ones I have done a significant amount of research into. Transhumanism and the Singularity will transform every single person’s life whether they want this transformation to happen or not, so constant research is essential to being as prepared as possible for this next few decades. Let’s take a closer look at those five tangible ways to extend our healthy lifespans right now.   

  • Whole Genome Sequencing

Getting our whole genomes sequenced is a great step to increasing our healthy lifespans for so many reasons. One reason is because of how cheap it is relative to the recent past. It cost $3 billion to have one’s genome sequenced in 2001. Since genome sequencing is an exponentially advancing technology like Ray Kurzweil predicted, in 2015 it only cost $1000 to sequence someone’s genome [1]. Most importantly, getting our whole genomes sequenced prevents diseases. I am not talking about the type of prevention where your parents and grandparents had heart attacks, so now you must eat specific cereal to prevent a heart attack. I am talking about complete prevention, e.g., the scientists at Human Longevity Inc. (HLI) only accept into their testing program people who are considered healthy by contemporary modern medicine. Even though members are considered “healthy,” HLI still finds some sort of hidden pathology in 40% of people tested. With their advanced scanning machines, whole genome sequencing process, and future application of machine learning to all their data, they are turning medicine into proactive, preventative, personalized, and predictive, rather than the contemporary healthcare system being reactive, disease-management-oriented, generalized, and costly.

Figure 1. HLI transforming the modern health system.  [2]

With this incredible approach, HLI has had a 100% diagnosis rate, and all their findings have been successfully treated. They have whole lists of stories, such as the story when a doctor considered healthy came into to get scanned by HLI, and they found a 5cm tumor under his tail bone; a week later he had it removed. He was later told that if he did not have it removed in 6 months, it would have metastasized [3]. The HLI offers two health packages, the Health Nucleus X for $4,950.00 [4] and the Health Nucleus X Platinum for $25,000.00 [5]. This may sound expensive, but with the exponential decrease in genome sequencing cost and with further democratization of HNX clinics, the price will drop quickly. But there is no time to waste, because contemporary health statistics are not on our side. We may feel healthy and are even told we are healthy by a hospital, but getting our whole genomes sequenced is how we really know.

Here is a link to HLI: https://www.humanlongevity.com/

  • Stem-Cell Therapy

Stem cells are so exciting, if you don’t feel excitement after reading this part of the article, then you did not fully comprehend the article. According to Daniel Kota, “We have reached a critical point. We see a massive number of different stem-cell treatments out there. The only thing between stem cell therapies and us, is regulatory agencies, such as the FDA in the US. But the number of stem-cell treatments out there are getting so overwhelming that some are just falling through the cracks” [6]. Not only can stem-cell therapy provide a massive number of treatments, but it may even have age-reversal effects. Before I explain these effects in more detail, the stem-cell therapies I am going to describe have not gone through FDA approval yet in the US, so it would require you to be a medical tourist for now. So, a lot of research and many discussions with your physician are essential before actively seeking any sort of therapy. As we age the number and function of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) decrease. MSCs are the major modulators of our health and homeostasis. It is also important to note that MSCs are not the controversial embryonic stem cells (EMCs). MSCs are not only more ethical to use, because the extraction process does not require the destruction of a human embryo, but research has found MSCs to be significantly better to use for human treatments, relative to EMCs. So, back to how MSCs help with age-related diseases.

Figure 2. The amount of MSCs in our body decrease over time.

A shown in Figure 2, when we are born, we have a certain amount of MSCs, and they divide at their fastest rate. The number of cells and their rate of division decrease over time. So, let’s say you’re 80 years old and you need 10,000 MSCs to recover from some pathology, but you only have a 1,000 – well you can clearly see that the 80-year-old will not have enough MSCs [7]. So what researchers and doctors are doing are just placing stem cells back into the body, e.g., at the Stem Cell Institute, the medical clinic in Panama City, Panama, they inject stem cells in the specific area of bodily damage, such as a hip fracture. They also intravenously inject stem cells into patients. Matter of fact, this is what Mel Gibson’s father did. He was 92 years old, on his death bed, and the genius Mel Gibson had his personal physician talk with Dr. Neil Riordan, and soon thereafter, Mel’s Dad was in Panama getting stem cell injections in his hip and intravenously. Now his father is thriving at 99 years of age! [8] That is amazing! There are a large number of similar stories ranging from curing complete quadriplegia to low-functioning children with autism becoming high-functioning, even to a point where it is barely noticeable that the child has autism. Dr. Riordan, the founder of Stem Cell Institute, wrote an amazing book called Stem Cell Therapy: A Rising Tide: How Stem Cells Are Disrupting Medicine and Transforming Lives, that explains MSC therapy in a very easy-to-understand and passionate manner. I highly recommend it. Prices for the stem-cell treatment depend on the specific pathology, but general intravenous injections would cost around $20,000.

Here is a link to the Stem Cell Institute: https://www.cellmedicine.com/

Here is a link to Dr. Neil Riordan speaking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLKOddCPs9I

  • Sign the International Ban on AI Weaponry

The only other epochs that were as important as the next two decades of artificial intelligence (AI) development were when life first began 4.2 billion years ago and when the universe began 13.8 billion years ago. According to Andrew Ng, “AI is the new electricity. About a hundred years ago, we did not have widespread access to electricity in the US, but with the rise of electricity, it transformed every industry. Agriculture was transformed through the rise of refrigeration, communications was transformed by telegraph, manufacturing was transformed by the electric motor, healthcare was transformed. In all these industries you have a hard time imagining how to run these things without electricity. AI technology, especially deep learning, has now advanced to a point where we see a surprisingly clear path for it to also transform every industry” [9]. Similar statements have been uttered from many of the tech titans, e.g., Sundar Pichai, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk [10] [11] [12]. Like every technology, AI can either be used for good or evil. Well, the amount of good AI can bring humanity is probably infinite. It will help us cure all diseases, personalize teaching to children, drive our cars, take away our soul-draining jobs, and SO MUCH MORE. To make an ideal AI future come to fruition, we must properly steer this most powerful technological development. The amount of bad that AI can bring humanity, if misapplied, is an existential risk, possibly worse. There are already AI weapons being successfully made, e.g., The Kalashnikov Bureau weapons manufacturing company announced that it has recently invented an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), which field tests have already shown better than human level intelligence. China recently began field-testing cruise missiles with AI and autonomous capabilities, and a few companies are getting very close to having AI autopilot operating to control the flight envelope at hypersonic speeds. [13]. According to Reuters, “The Pentagon’s fiscal 2017 budget request will include $12 billion to $15 billion to fund war gaming, experimentation and the demonstration of new technologies aimed at ensuring a continued military edge over China and Russia” [14]. Vladimir Putin publicly announced that “Artificial intelligence is the future. Not only for Russia, but for all of humankind. It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere, will become the ruler of the world” [15]. The government of China laid out a timeline to beat the US in this AI arms race, aiming by 2020 to have caught up to the AI industry, by 2025 to be ahead of the US, and by 2030 to dominate the industry of AI. One tangible way to prevent an AI arms race is to sign the international ban on AI weaponry.

Here is a link to the open letter supporting an international ban on AI weaponry: https://futureoflife.org/open-letter-autonomous-weapons/

  • Transhumanist organizations

It almost seems like every week there is a new Transhumanist organization emerging. I guess people are finally figuring out how quintessential transhumanist principles are for the future of humanity. I recommend you search Wikipedia, because they have a great database of Transhumanist organizations.

Becoming a member of the United States Transhumanist Party (USTP) and all the other transhumanist parties and organizations is a great way to stay informed about all the exponentially accelerating science and technology [1]. The USTP’s central tenet is to place science, health, and technology at the forefront of American Politics. The accelerated technological advancement that is occurring will cause such enormous change, but for some reason our political leaders mainly focus on providing the American people with momentary uplifting feelings, and their advocacies encompass going back to the old days. Well instead, they should be placing all their resources into educating and preparing Americans for this massive transformation we are all about to witness in the next few decades. Please become a member of the USTP and help us get the word out about Transhumanism and the Singularity for the sake of all our lives.

Here is the link to become a member of the USTP: http://transhumanist-party.org/membership/

Here is a link to H+Pedia’s list of Transhumanist political organizations: https://hpluspedia.org/wiki/Transhumanist_political_organisations

Here is a link to Wikipedia’s list of Transhumanist organizations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Transhumanist_organizations

  • Cryonics

Cryonics has been around for a relatively long time. The first cryonics institute was formed in 1976, and even though cryonics has been around for so long, cryogenically preserving one’s body just has not been popularized yet by the mainstream. One would think that by 2018, we would have caught on. It is sad to think of all the millions of people that missed the chance to be preserved for the last 40 years. It is very important to have yourself and loved ones cryopreserved after death, because it will decrease the taboo, push the advancement of the technology forward, and, most importantly, you will be able to live indefinitely! Many may think that it is too expensive, and prices can range anywhere from $28,000.00 to $200,000.00, but choosing to do monthly payments makes the price very affordable [16], [17].

Here is a link to a cryonics organization – the Alcor Life Extension Foundation: https://alcor.org/

Here is a link to another cryonics organization – the Cryonics Institute: http://www.cryonics.org/

In the great Transhumanist game, the human species must unite once and for all to survive the 21st century. Ray Kurzweil gave us a map to the greatest treasure, a treasure that will buy more than happiness. It will buy us eternal love, beautiful augmentation, indefinite longevity, and maybe even utopia. It is up to us to steer this ship in the right direction and make sure we stay afloat while on this dangerous journey. I sincerely hope this information saves as many lives as possible.

Bobby Ridge is the Secretary of the United States Transhumanist Party. Read more about him here

References

  1. Kurzweil, Ray. “Ray Kurzweil — Immortality By 2045 / Global Future 2045 Congress’2013.” YouTube, 2045 Initiative, 18 Jan. 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlRTbl_IB-s
  2. Venter, Craig. “Dr. Craig Venter – How We Will Extend Our Lives: From Synthetic Life to Human Longevity.” YouTube.com, The Artificial Intelligence Channel, 1 Oct. 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfzfI2dvp3s
  3. Venter, Craig. “MIS2017: Genomics, Advanced Imaging, And The Future Of Medicine.” YouTube.com, Cleveland Clinic, 8 Nov. 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkUMjh1GjKs
  4. Health Nucleus X. Human Longevity, Inc. 2013. Web. 4 May 2018.
  5. Health Nucleus X Platinum. Human Longevity, Inc. 2013. Web. 4 May 2018
  6. Kota, Daniel. “Promises and Dangers of Stem Cell Therapies | Daniel Kota | TEDxBrookings.” YouTube.com, TEDx Talks., 28 Nov. 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsFEcBwO8O4
  7. Riordan, Neil H. Stem Cell Therapy: A Rising Tide: How Stem Cells Are Disrupting Medicine and Transforming Lives. 2017. Print.
  8. Riordan, Neil. “Golden Cells and Mesenchymal Molecules – Neil Riordan, PhD.” YouTube.com, Riordan Clinic. 15 Jan. 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLKOddCPs9I
  9. Ng, Andrew. “Andrew Ng – The State of Artificial Intelligence.” YouTube.com, The Artificial Intelligence Channel, 15 Dec. 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKpuX_yzdYs
  10. Pichai, Sundar. “Google CEO Sundar Pichai: A.I. More Important To Humanity Than Fire And Electricity | MSNBC.” YouTube.com, MSNBC. 29, Jan. 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxEo3Epc43Y
  11. Bezos, Jeff. “Amazon’s Jeff Bezos: Lessons in Management at I.A. Gala 2017.” YouTube.com, Expovista TV, 8 May, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpDUiDQigO8
  12. Musk, Elon. “Elon Musk, National Governors Association, July 15, 2017.” YouTube.com, WordsmithFL, 16 July, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3lzEQANdHk
  13. Husain, Amir. “Amir Husain: “The Sentient Machine: The Coming Age of Artificial Intelligence.”” YouTube.com. Talks at Google. 31 Jan. 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcC5OV_oA1s
  14. Conn, Ariel. “Pentagon Seeks $12 -$15 Billion for AI Weapons Research.” Future of life institute. FLI – Future of Life Institute, 15 Dec. 2015. Web. 4 May, 2018.
  15. Putin, Vladimir. “Whoever leads in AI will rule the world! – Putin to Russian children on Knowledge Day.” YouTube.com. Russia Insight. 4 Sep. 2017.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kggRND8c7Q].
  16. “Cryospreservation is far more affordable than you might think.” Cryonics Institute Technology for Life. Cryonics Institute. 4 May, 2018. Web 4 May, 2018.
  17. “Alcor Cryopreservation Agreement – Schedule A Required Costs and Cryopreservation Fund Minimums.” Alcor Life Extension Foundation. Alcor. Web 4 May, 2018.
The Need for an Architect – Article by C. H. Antony

The Need for an Architect – Article by C. H. Antony

 

logo_bgC. H. Antony


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this perspective from one of our members, Mr. C. H. Antony, as a way of motivating discussion about possibilities for effectively spreading transhumanist ideas with a significant impact on contemporary culture and politics.

 ~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, May 10, 2018


Orphan Tech

As a high-school student, I filled my free periods with Architectural Drafting classes. In retrospect, I believe it was the aspect of structured creativity that I found most attractive, indeed, comforting. Here was a way of expressing unique visions of domiciles and utilitarian structures that challenged me to use my imagination applied within a set of established rules; if I wanted to stretch the limits of a design, I had to justify it within the tolerances of the materials used. I would have to be mindful of construction techniques and building codes if I ever wanted to see a schematic make it to the modeling phase of the class. As a result, I was introduced to some surface knowledge of materials sciences, construction, geometry, physics, electrical theory, and so on. But, most importantly, it molded my mind in such a way that I approach all things with the baseline assumption that there are a multitude of variables that influence all things. That you can’t simply analyze a painting on the grounds of colors, canvas, and light. One must also consider the chemistry of paint (e.g. oil, egg tempera, etc.), the medium on which it is painted, the brushes, the cultural context of the artist, ad infinitum. Indeed, imagining all the variables and eliminating them can be as entertaining and transformative as the artist’s work. I say we need to assume a similar attitude as we approach the inevitable convergence of technological and sociopolitical evolution we are collectively calling The Singularity.

It’s pretty clear that there are more technologies than there are applications now. We create seemingly supernatural metamaterials, then study their properties, then figure out where we can apply them. In previous decades, the technology often followed a need. The wheel, the cart, the locomotive, the internal combustion engine, rocket propulsion, jet propulsion, all came along in response to a specific need to convey resources from one place to another. Today, we have fields of research that grew from no particular need at all, save for our insatiable curiosity, in which we now are scrambling to find relevant and marketable applications. Still being a market-driven culture, without a product in which to incorporate these groundbreaking technologies, they die in the womb, no matter how remarkable.

We need a team or committee that can intelligently gather up these technologies in order to advance them toward a specific project goal. It will take more than simply musing about a “metabrain” and offering imaginative graphics of how it could be used by future humans. We need to actually design something! Elon Musk, the man warning us of dangerous AI, rightly so, has an actual plan; the Neuralink project. And I think we can all agree that something like that has nothing to do with the latest gaming platform or smart toaster, and everything to do with the technology that could significantly enhance human intelligence and help get us out ahead of AI.

Often times the developers of these amazing technologies will justify them as applicable to new smartphones or medical devices, almost deliberately avoiding their potential for human enhancement. I suspect that this is because they fear losing project funding. And, again, right they should. Dreamers are feared in business, much as we’d like to think otherwise.

The recent break-through meta-lense that functions similarly to the human iris, but can resolve distance, perspective, parallax, and color shift all at once and magnify sight profoundly, is being applied for integrated camera systems. What a tragedy… Imagine, sliding a meta-lense into the human eye as we do for replacement artificial lenses now, and enhancing our vision beyond anything man has viewed with the healthiest natural eye! Instead of openly discussing this amazing possibility and striving for it, they hope to sell it to Apple for the next generation of selfie-takers.

The Genetics industry has brought us CRISPR/Cas9, MITI, and all the other amazing things above my education. As our ability to run advanced computer models grows less fallible, these techniques could be the very tools that could create a flawless human genome that could be naturally immune to most disease and degeneration, but instead we will lose precious time as scientists are forced to sing for their supper to an audience that is more likely to shelve the technology for fear of losing the vast income of pharmaceutical treatment for indefinite periods of time.

Building a Better World

The list of amazing new science goes on and on, but I fear many of them will miss their mark due to the influence of big industries. A well-organized, funded, and mission-directed committee that is constantly monitoring and ready to save these technologies from their ultimately inglorious applications is essential to realizing the goals of radical life extension (if not true immortality), cognitive and physical enhancement, and cessation of suffering. We also need to be prepared for creating a new form of civilization in which to flourish as enhanced Human 2.0.

It has been often postulated that when one takes the total annual GDP of the United States, adds it with a low and competitive corporate tax, deletes all individual and small-business tax income, then strips down the federal spending, that a Universal Basic Income can be given to all American citizens, without having taken it from the highest earners, thus avoiding the moral pitfalls of wealth redistribution or Socialism. To put a finer point on it, if all entitlement programs and social security programs were stripped away, if five intelligence agencies with individual budgets were wisely consolidated and reorganized into one agency, if the IRS were automated and only employed a few dozen people to maintain the system and analyze for errors, and so on with all aspects of government, there would be likely enough to provide that basic income and top-shelf healthcare to every American citizen. I would ask that far more educated people than I examine these economic hypotheticals. We need a specific and easily conveyable plan to take what we have and make it better. Then the United States could lead the rest of the world by example, not direct influence.

One could argue that after over a century of bending our constitutional position on federal taxes, that we are due a return on our investment. That is where the social engineering speculated on above will come into play. When calculating a reasonable UBI, we should be taking into account that it may be that a generation of workers, those laboring at jobs they dislike, may stop working altogether. Those who have created meaningful careers for themselves will have the freedom to either stay where they are and continue to advance or take the risk of trying other applications for their expertise. But those who are merely working for survival, or the value of a needed benefits package, may need time to explore something more meaningful from the ground up – or not at all. And that will be their choice. But we cannot predict what impact a society free of death, disease, debt, and destitution will have on the sociopolitical future of the United States. I choose to believe that, in the long run, it will make it nearly impossible for future bureaucrats to benefit from miscarriages of their duties. A truly free society won’t tolerate it.

However, the entrenchment of the current establishment is vicious and violent. I won’t go out into the weeds of conspiracy, but I think it can be agreed that we have good reason to fear the tactics of those who would retain their power. As such, the aforementioned plan would need to be made as public as possible. That way, the citizenry as a whole has an opportunity to examine it and freely decide their position on it before it can be spun out of context and meaning. It would enable a discourse that would not only advance our ideas, but enable new ideas and means of implementation to bubble to the surface. It must be done from both the grass-roots level, and from the upper branches. We will need figures with the means and resources to swat down the many scandals that will be heaved in their directions, the false narratives, and manufactured evidence. We’ll need legal teams, private investigators, media specialists, and meticulous care to combat these easily recognizable, yet devastatingly effective, tactics. It will be a fight.

I should explain that I am a proud American. I stand for the ideals of our founding fathers in that the freedom of the individual is paramount. I believe that a representative republic, when not corrupted, is the best form of government we, as human beings, can establish so long as we are in need of a government at all. While I believe that we as a species will ultimately outgrow such things, for now, in our formative years, it is a necessary evil. That is why it is our duty to retain control over it, not relinquish it. I believe it is time to evolve our country into something the world will want to emulate. Our core principles and our Constitution are perfectly adequate, but the endless “interpretations” of them have led to no end of judicial misconduct and entrapment. At no time, I believe, has the will of the people truly and consistently been applied since before the Civil War. With the societal and personal benefits attainable by the U.S. Transhumanist Party, we have an opportunity to return reason and liberty to American politics, to eliminate poverty, disease, and tragedy. We have the ability to change, not only the American experience, but to encourage the change of all of humanity for the extreme betterment of the species. I believe that the founding fathers would have agreed if placed in our modern contexts.

The Perfect Organism

I would argue that we need a product to sell, distasteful as that may sound. Natasha Vita-More has done a wonderful job of illustrating an idealized form, but I respectfully disagree with her lack of explanation of specific applied technologies. In today’s world, driven by millennial consumers, specs count. When a ten-year-old child begs their parent for a smartphone, they will often blend the processing speed, refresh rate, and connectability in with the fact that Sarah’s or Johnny’s parent got them one a month ago. While the child might not completely understand the value of the specifications they are repeating, the behavior of absorbing and comparing specifications from product to product is already ingrained. For this reason, I am reiterating my previous statement that we must develop a plan of approach that clearly delineates the desired technologies, reasonable expectation of cost and time to achieve, and the benefits of the product. Without more tangibility in our proposed future, we’ll never gain the public support for it.

I propose that we create the Human 2.0 in full concept with all the detailed features and the applied sciences necessary to execute it. It must reflect the potentials of current technology, retain enough of the biological self to allow mankind time to grow out of it on it’s own, ensure safety and system security, and fundamentally enhance not only the body, but the mind and experience of the individual. It will require the conversation and debate necessary to agree on a platform that substantially advances the human condition, lays the groundwork for the future expression of individualism and self beyond the original design.

I can only speak for myself, but I for one would prefer a stepped process toward the end of biological man. I believe a measure of maturity is still required and can’t be obtained by the addition of software to wetware. If we do not grow out of our childish ways, I fear we will only carry them with us into a potentially limitless existence with few or no consequences. We need time. But the coming Singularity may not afford us enough time. That, too, is a discussion that must be had – but not here.

Selling the Future

I have previously expressed my call for organizing Transhumanism into something the general public can understand and choose for themselves, or not. That will require a measure of showmanship. I’m not suggesting making dubious claims or using trickery, but there is an art to selling complicated concepts to the lay-public while remaining honest. Such individuals most easily recognizable today are industry leaders like Elon Musk, Natasha Vita-More, Jeff Bezos, Ray Kurzweil, and so on. We must also take care to avoid further marginalization as “fringe”. All that said, let us explore the Sale of Transhumanism:

Example: Genetic Product X will eliminate cell-division errors, allow your healthy cells to infinitely produce telomerase, and never create a cancer cell. You will lose all predispositions to all known degenerative diseases. Heart cells and liver cells will divide the same way as all your other healthy cells. These incredibly over-simplified features alone could end the aging process and death entirely. But, wait! there’s more; these advanced nanocytes will repair any damage caused to your cells by environmental aggressors. They’ll carry more oxygen and remove more CO2 than the rest of your natural hemoglobin. They can deliver medications precisely where needed! With easy firmware updates, they’ll physically destroy pathogens of all kinds if your genetically advanced immune system somehow misses them. And if you call now, we’ll tell you how these amazing advancements will pave the way to increasing your IQ exponentially as you are instantly linked to the total sum of human knowledge. The first million callers will receive sensory enhancements at no additional charge! And so on.

I know how ghastly that sounds. It disgusts me as well. But as ugly as it is, we should always bear in mind that that is precisely the culture we are trying to outgrow. Pretending it doesn’t exist will cause it to lay hidden in the grass, like a viper, waiting to strike at us when we accidentally step on its tail. The right people actively promoting the concept of advancing humanity will make all the difference in how well it is adopted. And I don’t speak only of acceptance; this is a concept that needs to be reconciled with the current state of human nature. It must be attainable by the average-income individual, it must be a free choice, it must not be a threat to the individual sense of self or freedom of thought. And this must be learned by way of vigorous debate centered around the ‘how’ and ‘when’, not the ‘if’. When properly packaged with well-presented and modeled societal changes, we could carefully usher our citizens away from the deceptive and divisive politics of the current system, and into a new age of reason that respects spirituality in all its forms, but is not at the mercy of it.

As I look over the party now, I see a lot of great ideas, a well-thought-out platform, and a constitution that seems to offer a much better life for all than this existential mud-trap we’ve been spinning our wheel in. But it doesn’t have a good spokesman. What it lacks is a face for Transhumanism, a person intelligent enough to fully grasp all the concepts and has the ability to debate them, has the talent for conveying complicated concepts to the layperson, without condescending, that endeared Carl Sagan to those of us lucky enough to have grown up with the original Cosmos series, and is comfortable within the media environment to remain sincere and perform as comfortably in front of a camera as they would in private.

Hope

Ultimately, the Transhumanist Party must convey sincere hope. Anyone who has ever suffered a midlife crisis can attest the overwhelming sense of loss and hopelessness that accompanies it. Loss of one’s youth and potential is the most potent reminder of mortality. Sometimes, we experience the crisis multiple times and long before our hopeful midlife mark. I’ll take this moment to speak of myself, and only for myself.

I grew up rather poor, and with much of the ire that comes with that. I have starved, I have been cold and miserable, I have been marginalized. I have lost a really good job because my five-hundred-dollar car broke down before I had made enough at that job to afford to fix it. There was no bus I could take, nor could I afford the cab fare. So I sucked it up, swallowed the humiliation, and tried to find another job. I’ve even worked four of them at a time. I didn’t get to go to college. At the time, the amount of job-hours necessary to keep an apartment, an extremely modest means of conveyance, and the required insurances, meant that time wasn’t available. So I worked harder, gained a broader skill set, and, over time, got better job opportunities. As a result, I spent all those years one usually does amassing memories of fun summers with friends working my tail off to improve my station in life. I’ve done all right, but not so far as the stress of each paycheck and the pockets it ends up in doesn’t haunt me. I’m riddled with anxiety and stress-induced chest pains, and most sadly, the crushing realization that I missed so much joy and discovery toiling away my youth in hopes of never despairing of a cold night or empty stomach again.

I’ve always loved Star Trek. I love science fiction in general, but Star Trek in particular. I have a favorite spin-off, Deep Space Nine, but I truly love them all. Gene Roddenberry’s future for humanity was both inspiring and believable when one was interested enough to put together all the fictional historical points that led us to the stars: high hopes for perfecting the species, the resulting war, and the hard lessons learned along the way. It took half a century after the human race was decimated by its own hand to raise itself up and take the fateful step that brought us to the attention of other life in the great Out There. From that point on, it took only another century to clean up the environment, eliminate poverty and disease, and build our first ships to travel beyond our solar system. I’m afraid we simply don’t have that kind of time to grow up, not with the rate at which our technology is advancing, and our enlightenment seems to be retarding. But, nevertheless, I often wished that I might fall asleep one night and wake up on the Promenade of DS9, with no bills and no demands on my labor, so that I might pursue at my own pace something I could be passionate about.

As a man, I have studied history with a far less biased perspective than that of a young man’s dreams, grown to understand the Master/Slave Morality proposed by Nietzsche, understand the dance of control and deception that now embodies American politics. Transhumanism as a movement means hope for stripping away all the waste and corruption of our current system, while preserving principles of individual freedom, the right of self-manifestation, a government in service of its people, and the preservation of liberty.

I find this current trend of using social media and mainstream media to shame individuals into accepting the group-think of a few outraged individuals nauseating. It is no less discriminatory to ruin a person’s livelihood and reputation for having a different outlook than another, or on the basis of an accusation without evidence, than to deny a person service in one’s establishment on the grounds of that outlook. It is morally on the level of terrorism and extortion. Yet, this is the level of maturity and decency that we have reached as a result of the interconnectedness that our modern world allows for. I’m not denouncing technology, or social evolution. I’m pointing out how viciously we’ve applied it. This viciousness will continue unless we move back toward a society of personal accountability, while moving toward a society that transcends today’s prevalent pettiness. The safe-zones, public shaming, social justice, whitewashing, and hypocrisy of the liberal society is frighteningly Orwellian, and most of the practitioners of these behaviors are too ignorant to realize it. Likewise, conservatism has lost all compassion and is polluted by religious doctrine and cronyism as badly as the liberal side of the coin. Libertarians seem dangerously naive of how other countries might not be as innately friendly as they are now, if we were to suddenly pull back our military might. So, the emergence of a political party that calls for rational discussion and governance, financial freedom, and unabashed pursuit of infinite life and health is a shining beacon of hope for one who has been deceived and disenfranchised by the two-party system, only occasionally tickled by a third or fourth upstart.

Unless we present the public with facts and steps toward this future, in a manner that carefully points out the lies they’ve lived on, we have no chance of ever seeing a human future that transcends the current stagnation. AI will become a weapon, instead of a partner, and we will wipe ourselves out. We will wallow in this carefully concealed slavery while the machinations we’ve created bring us our end.

C. H. Antony is a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. He may be contacted here

The Kyangende Community Secular Hub: Spreading Science, Education, and Health in Uganda – Post by Kiketta Tadeo

The Kyangende Community Secular Hub: Spreading Science, Education, and Health in Uganda – Post by Kiketta Tadeo

logo_bgKiketta Tadeo


Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this guest post by Mr. Kiketta Tadeo of the Kyangende Community Secular Hub in order to bring attention to an effort from one of our allies in Uganda in spreading technology, education, and secular values. Core Ideal 2 of the U.S. Transhumanist Party “supports a cultural, societal, and political atmosphere informed and animated by reason, science, and secular values.” Sometimes even basic technological and educational advances, which are ubiquitously available in more developed countries, can lead to dramatic improvements in the length and quality of life of humans in certain parts of the world. Ultimately, the aim of transhumanism is to make the technologies of abundance universally available to all who desire them – so we commend the work of the Kyangende Community Secular Hub in advancing this goal in a place where the need for technological progress is great.

                        ~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, April 23, 2018


Kyangende Community Secular Hub is found in Kibalya Village, Mahango Subcounty in Kasese, Uganda, around 6 miles from the Kasese main town. This organisation was formed to help people in the rural community of Kasese to understand science and to enable people to understand their values as human beings in order to make a difference. The following are some of the objectives of this group:

  • Promoting health in the community. The area lacks hospitals to help get immediate service, especially to pregnant women who are delayed on the way, being carried on stretchers to hospitals in town, leading to the loss of many children.
  • Establishing health programs to fight malaria and provide first aid through the rural clinic.
  • Promoting education of girl children through supporting women and educating them on the importance of education.
  • Promoting talents through music, art, and culture among the women and youth.
  • Encouraging people to do good to their fellows as human beings.
  • Fighting bad beliefs by promoting science and technology.
  • Fighting domestic violence in families by forming groups and making songs that teach people good ways of keeping their families.
  • Promoting environmental conservation through tree planting.
  • Forming gardening projects to reduce famine and provide good nutrition.

Those are pictures of my community people fighting malaria using mosquito nets and holding meetings while planning other activities like goat keeping, piggery, and making songs.

 

For inquiries and ways to assist, contact Mr. Kiketta Tadeo:

E-mail: Kyangendec@gmail.com OR kikethaaa@gmail.com

Phone: +256701843124

Boosting Bone Healing Using a Key Protein – Article by Steve Hill

Boosting Bone Healing Using a Key Protein – Article by Steve Hill

Steve Hill


Editor’s Note: In this article, Mr. Steve Hill highlights research on selective bone regeneration using a protein called Jagged-1. This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                   ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, March 7, 2018

Today, we would like to highlight a recent study in which researchers show a way to selectively accelerate bone regeneration. They have achieved this by delivering Jagged-1 to injuries instead of the bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) that have been traditionally used.

What is Jagged-1?

Jagged-1 is an osteoinductive protein that activates the Notch signaling pathway, which regulates bone healing at the site of injury. Osteoinduction is the process by which osteogenesis is induced.

Osteoinduction involves recruiting immature cells and stimulating them to change into preosteoblasts. In a bone healing situation, such as during a fracture, the majority of bone healing depends on osteoinduction.

The new technique avoids the issues of inappropriate or excessive bone growth because, unlike BMPs, it targets osteoinductive mechanisms that are more directly associated with the regenerative process.

Testing their hypothesis

The researchers led by Kurt Hankenson, D.V.M., Ph.D., a professor of orthopedic surgery at Michigan Medicine, hypothesized for some years that by binding Jagged-1 to a biomaterial structure and delivering it to the site of injury, it could improve healing of the bone.

The published study results confirm this to be the case [1]. Mice and rats that were given Jagged-1, applied using a wet collagen sponge, saw improvements to both femoral and skull injuries. In contrast, the rodents treated with BMPs benefited but also experienced problematic bone hypertrophy, which is also observed in humans using BMPs.

The findings of this study suggest that the use of Jagged-1 for location-specific bone injury could potentially be developed into a therapy to help people recover from fractures and broken bones.

Conclusion

The use of signal molecules rather than drugs to encourage tissue regeneration is likely to increase in popularity in the coming years as the process becomes increasingly refined. This study is yet another example of how researchers are exploring the use of signalling molecules produced naturally in the body as an alternative to drug approaches, which can often have unwanted side effects. It should prove interesting to see how this approach develops in the next few years.

Literature

[1] Youngstrom, D. W., Senos, R., Zondervan, R. L., Brodeur, J. D., Lints, A. R., Young, D. R., … & Loomes, K. M. (2017). Intraoperative delivery of the Notch ligand Jagged-1 regenerates appendicular and craniofacial bone defects. NPJ Regenerative medicine, 2(1), 32.

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.

Dentists May Soon Regenerate Teeth Using GSK3 Antagonists – Article by Steve Hill

Dentists May Soon Regenerate Teeth Using GSK3 Antagonists – Article by Steve Hill

Steve Hill


Editor’s Note: In this article, Mr. Steve Hill explains a teeth-regeneration technique that works by activating the stem cells that reside in the dental pulp of teeth. The technique has the potential to translate to other tissues to help encourage regeneration. This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                   ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, March 6, 2018

What if I told you that we could regenerate our teeth? Well, that may soon be a possibility thanks to new research showing that teeth can be encouraged to regrow. Rather than drilling holes into teeth and plugging them with artificial fillers, dentists in the near future may be able to rebuild your teeth with a new technique.

Stimulating stem cells

Professor Paul Sharpe, a scientist based at King’s College in London, and his team have found a way to do just this in mice. They published a study last year that described this new approach [1].

The researchers wanted to increase the natural ability of teeth to repair themselves by activating the stem cells that reside in the dental pulp of teeth. They knew that previous research showed that the wnt signaling pathway is a key pathway for stem cell activity in many parts of the body, and they wanted to see if it works the same way in teeth.

The researchers believed by that using drugs to stimulate the wnt pathway, they could increase stem cell activity in teeth and boost their regenerative potential significantly. Normally, this level of regeneration is only seen in animals like starfish and salamanders, but the researchers wanted to see if we can benefit from the same regenerative capacity.

To see if this would work, the team drilled holes into the molar teeth of mice to simulate dental cavities. Next, they exposed collagen sponges (the same protein found in the dentin in teeth) to a variety of drugs known to stimulate the wnt pathway. Then, they placed these sponges into the cavities and sealed them in for between 4 to 6 weeks.

After this time, the researchers saw that the teeth exposed to these sponges had created a lot more dentin than the control mice and mice given typical dental fillers. The researchers observed that this was essentially a full repair and, in most cases, the teeth of the mice were as good as new.

The next step towards clinical trials

Since then, the researchers have tested the technique on rats, which have considerably larger teeth than mice, making them the logical next step. The research team report that the therapy worked equally well on the rats as it did in the mice in the original study; however, the data is yet to be published.

The researchers are now screening their drug candidates to identify the most effective of the wnt-stimulating drugs. They are also adapting the technique to work with modern dental practices by injecting a gel containing the drug into a dental cavity and hardening it using a UV light to seal it in. This is similar to how dentists currently seal and repair teeth, so this technique would be easy to incorporate into dental practice.

Literature

It will be several years before this enters human clinical trials, but the results so far are promising, and the process may be quicker than normal because a number of the candidate drugs are already approved for human use. The arrival of this technique will revolutionize dentistry and is a great step forward for regenerative medicine in general.

Such techniques have the potential to translate to other tissues to help encourage regeneration, so it is also relevant to aging research. We look forward to more developments from this team in the future.

References

[1] Neves, V. C., Babb, R., Chandrasekaran, D., & Sharpe, P. T. (2017). Promotion of natural tooth repair by small molecule GSK3 antagonists. Scientific reports, 7, 39654.

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.

Exosome Therapy Repairs Stroke-Damaged Brain Tissue – Article by Steve Hill

Exosome Therapy Repairs Stroke-Damaged Brain Tissue – Article by Steve Hill

Steve Hill


Editor’s Note: In this article, Mr. Steve Hill explains a new therapy that uses exosomes to repair damaged brain cells. The human trials are intended to begin in the year 2019. This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                   ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, March 5, 2018

Today, we wanted to highlight more progress in a rapidly advancing area of medicine and talk about a new study that uses an exosomes-based approach for stroke treatment that repairs brain tissue.

A stem cell-based approach to treating stroke

Professor Steven Stice from the University of Georgia (UGA) and Nasrul Hoda of Augusta University led the team that developed AB126, a treatment that uses a type of extracellular vesicle known as an exosome [1]. Exosomes are small fluid-filled structures that are created by stem cells and, in the case of AB126, are produced by human neural stem cells.

Essentially, the researchers are isolating the beneficial signals given out by stem cells and using them rather than the stem cells as a therapy. This makes sense, as other cells react to these signals and change their behavior accordingly. We have talked about the therapeutic potential of extracellular vesicles, particularly exosomes, in a previous article.

An exosome can remain hidden in the bloodstream, carry multiple doses, and store and administer treatment, and its small size allows it to cross barriers that cells cannot. This is ideal for delivering therapies to the brain, as it crosses the blood-brain barrier and other checkpoints in the body.

After the administration of AB126,  the researchers used MRI scans to assess brain atrophy rates in an animal model of stroke. The scans showed around 35 percent decrease in the size of injury and a 50 percent reduction in brain tissue loss. These results were also replicated by Franklin West, associate professor of animal and dairy science at UGA, in a pig model of stroke.

Within days, the researchers observed improved mobility, better balance, and measurable behavioral benefits in treated animal models of stroke.

Based on the successful results of these preclinical tests, the next step is to take this therapy to human clinical trials by 2019 via ArunA Biomedical, a UGA startup company. The company plans to expand its scope beyond stroke, and preclinical studies in epilepsy, traumatic brain, and spinal cord injuries begin later this year.

Conclusion

This is another example of the recent interest in using extracellular vesicles, such as exosomes, as therapies rather than stem cells themselves. Multiple research groups are now developing these therapies to treat various age-related diseases, so we can almost certainly expect to hear more in the near future.

The use of extracellular vesicles also holds the promise of being more cost-effective from the point of view of storage, logistics, manufacture, and delivery. With the first clinical trials now in the cards for the near future, it will be interesting to see how this develops in the next few years.

References

[1] Webb, R. L., Kaiser, E. E., Scoville, S. L., Thompson, T. A., Fatima, S., Pandya, C., … & Baban, B. (2017). Human Neural Stem Cell Extracellular Vesicles Improve Tissue and Functional Recovery in the Murine Thromboembolic Stroke Model. Translational stroke research, 1-10.

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.

Gene Cocktail Helps Hearts to Regenerate – Article by Steve Hill

Gene Cocktail Helps Hearts to Regenerate – Article by Steve Hill

Steve Hill


Editor’s Note: In this article, Steve Hill explains a technique that enables significant human tissue regeneration, so that it becomes possible to repair damaged human hearts. This technique can also be potentially applied to other body organs.  This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                   ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, March 4, 2018

The human heart is an organ whose cells rarely divide, making tissue repair and regeneration a huge problem following a heart attack. Many animals, such as zebrafish and salamanders, are different; they can regenerate damaged hearts easily.

As humans, we also once had the same regenerative capacity during our early development, but after we were born, we lost this ability. This is also true for many other organs, including the brain, spinal cord, and pancreas. The cells in these tissues divide very rarely if at all, and this is a big problem. But, what if we could get that regenerative ability back and repair damage to our hearts the way these amazing animals do?

Researchers have been trying for decades to find out how we can enjoy the same tissue regeneration, but they have met with limited success—until now.

Unlocking cell division in cardiomyocytes

A research team led by Dr. Deepak Srivastava, president of the Gladstone Institutes, has finally achieved this long sought-after goal in a study published in the journal Cell [1]. The researchers have developed an efficient and reliable way of making non-dividing adult cardiomyocytes divide so that they can repair damaged hearts.

They identified four genes that regulate cell division in adult cardiomyocytes. When all four of them are combined together, they cause the cardiomyocytes to re-enter the cell cycle and start dividing quickly. They also demonstrated that following heart failure, these combined genes improve cardiac function significantly.

The researchers tested the technique in animal models using cardiomyocytes derived from human stem cells. They stained newly divided cells with a special dye in order to track them; they found that between 15 to 20 percent of the cells divided and remained alive thanks to the four-gene combo. This is a vast improvement on previous studies, which have only managed around 1 percent cell division in adult cardiomyocytes.

The team also made the technique simpler by identifying drugs that could replace two of the four genes involved in the combination. This still produced the same result as using all four genes and is significantly easier, logistically speaking.

Could be used in multiple tissues

As mentioned, the heart is not the only tissue that has cells that either do not divide or do so very slowly. The researchers believe that their technique could also potentially be applied to encourage other tissues and organs to regenerate. This is because the four genes are not unique to the heart and are found in other cells around the body.

If science can unlock the same regeneration in nerve cells, pancreatic cells, and retinal cells, this could be the basis of therapies for heart failure, brain damage, diabetes, blindness, and many other conditions. The good news is these four genes encourage cell division the same way in mice, rats, and human cells.

Conclusion

Manipulating non-dividing cells and returning them to the cell cycle to boost regeneration in organs and tissues holds great potential. Scientists have been working for decades to achieve this in the heart, and now it has been achieved. The next big step is to translate this approach to humans, and we wish them the very best in their future research.

Literature

[1] Mohamed, T. M., Ang, Y. S., Radzinsky, E., Zhou, P., Huang, Y., Elfenbein, A., … & Srivastava, D. (2017). Regulation of Cell Cycle to Stimulate Adult Cardiomyocyte Proliferation and Cardiac Regeneration.

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.

New FDA Regenerative Medicine Framework is Win-Win for Gene Therapies – Article by Keith Comito and Elena Milova

New FDA Regenerative Medicine Framework is Win-Win for Gene Therapies – Article by Keith Comito and Elena Milova

Elena Milova
Keith Comito


Editor’s Note: In this article, Keith Comito and Elena Milova positively discuss new a FDA regulatory framework on RMAT (regenerative medicine advanced therapies) and on how it benefits the healthy-life-extension community. This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                   ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, March 3, 2018

Back in November 2017, the FDA announced a comprehensive policy framework for the development and oversight of regenerative medicine products, including novel cellular therapies. Both draft guidance documents had 90-day comment periods, and we at LEAF joined forces with the Niskanen Center to submit comments to the FDA to ensure that the voice of the community for healthy life extension was heard. These new regulations could have considerable implications for the therapies and technologies being developed as part of the biomedical gerontology field.

The first draft guidance addresses how the FDA intends to optimize its regulatory requirements for devices used in the recovery, isolation, and delivery of RMATs (regenerative medicine advanced therapies), including combination products.

The second document explains what expedited programs may be available to sponsors of regenerative medicine therapies and describes what therapies may be eligible for RMAT designation.

According to new FDA regulations, a drug is eligible for designation as an RMAT if:

  • The drug is a regenerative medicine therapy, which is defined as a cell therapy, therapeutic tissue engineering product, human cell and tissue product, or any combination product using such therapies or products, except for those regulated solely under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act and part 1271 of Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations;
  • The drug is intended to treat, modify, reverse, or cure a serious or life-threatening disease or condition; and
  • Preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug has the potential to address unmet medical needs for such disease or condition

We hope that this joint project will support the improvement of US regulations that concern these innovative treatments and will make the overall regulatory landscape more friendly. Below, we cite the most important notes from our resulting paper.

Last week, the Niskanen Center joined with the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation in filing comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), offering our support for the agency’s new regenerative medicine advanced therapy (RMAT) designation draft guidance for industry.

Although there are opportunities for marginal improvements to the guidance, and FDA approval processes more generally, we are happy to see that the agency chose to include gene therapies in its interpretation of what qualifies as a regenerative medicine therapy.

Under section 3033 of the 21st Century Cures Act, the FDA was tasked with developing an accelerated approval process for regenerative advanced therapies. Such therapies would qualify for expedited review and approval so long as the drug (a) met the definition of a regenerative medicine therapy, (b) was “intended to treat, modify, reverse, or cure a serious condition,” and (c) “has the potential to address unmet medical needs” for a serious disease or condition. Unfortunately, the bill’s definition of a regenerative medicine advanced therapy was unclear on whether gene therapies, in particular, would qualify. Luckily, the FDA clarified this point. As the RMAT guidance document notes:

gene therapies, including genetically modified cells, that lead to a durable modification of cells or tissues may meet the definition of a regenerative medicine therapy. Additionally, a combination product (biologic-device, biologic-drug, or biologic-device-drug) can be eligible for RMAT designation when the biological product component provides the greatest contribution to the overall intended therapeutic effects of the combination product.

This is an excellent development and one that portends immense benefits for future gene therapy applications submitted for FDA approval. According to the guidance, the new RMAT designation, unlike other fast-track approval and review processes, “does not require evidence to indicate that the drug may offer a substantial improvement over available therapies.” Liberalizing the threshold standards of evidence for RMAT designation ensures that future gene therapies will encounter fewer unnecessary roadblocks in delivering more effective and innovative treatments for individuals suffering from debilitating diseases.

As we note in our concluding remarks:

Overall, we consider the RMAT guidance to be a stellar improvement over other expedited programs, especially in its qualifying criteria. However, greater clarity is needed in order to capture the benefits of more advanced cell therapies that can help contribute to the healthy aging and well-being of American citizens. As FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb recently noted: “The benefits of [gene therapy] science—and the products that become available—are likely to accelerate. How we define the modern framework for safely advancing these opportunities will determine whether we’re able to fully realize the benefits that these new technologies can offer.”

We agree wholeheartedly. Developing a regulatory framework that accommodates safety and innovation will be a key determinant of how quickly the benefits of regenerative medicine, gene therapy, and anti-aging research revolutionize the lives of Americans. This guidance is an important and promising step in the right direction. With the right modifications, it can help usher in a new age of healthcare improvement for individuals from all walks of life.

Read the full comments submitted to the FDA here.

Source: Niskanen Center

About Elena Milova

As a devoted advocate of rejuvenation technologies since 2013, Elena is providing the community with a systemic vision how aging is affecting our society. Her research interests include global and local policies on aging, demographic changes, public perception of the application of rejuvenation technologies to prevent age-related diseases and extend life, and related public concerns. Elena is a co-author of the book “Aging prevention for all” (in Russian, 2015) and the organizer of multiple educational events helping the general public adopt the idea of eventually bringing aging under medical control.

About Keith Comito

Keith Comito is President of LEAF / Lifespan.io and a long-time advocate of longevity research. He is also a computer programmer, mathematician, musician, lover of life and perhaps a man with too many hobbies. He earned a B.S. in Mathematics, B.S. in Computer science, and M.S. in Applied Mathematics at Hofstra University, where his work included analysis of the LMNA protein.

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.