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Fourth Enlightenment Salon – Political Segment: Discussion on Artificial Intelligence in Politics, Voting Systems, and Democracy

Fourth Enlightenment Salon – Political Segment: Discussion on Artificial Intelligence in Politics, Voting Systems, and Democracy

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Gennady Stolyarov II
Bill Andrews
Bobby Ridge
John Murrieta


This is the third and final video segment from Mr. Stolyarov’s Fourth Enlightenment Salon.

Watch the first segment here.

Watch the second segment here.

On July 8, 2018, during his Fourth Enlightenment Salon, Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, invited John Murrieta, Bobby Ridge, and Dr. Bill Andrews for an extensive discussion about transhumanist advocacy, science, health, politics, and related subjects.

Topics discussed during this installment include the following:

• What is the desired role of artificial intelligence in politics?
• Are democracy and transhumanism compatible?
• What are the ways in which voting and political decision-making can be improved relative to today’s disastrous two-party system?
• What are the policy implications of the development of artificial intelligence and its impact on the economy?
• What are the areas of life that need to be separated and protected from politics altogether?

 

Join the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside by filling out an application form that takes less than a minute. Members will also receive a link to a free compilation of Tips for Advancing a Brighter Future, providing insights from the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s Advisors and Officers on some of what you can do as an individual do to improve the world and bring it closer to the kind of future we wish to see.

 

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.
U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II Interviewed by Nikola Danaylov of Singularity.FM

U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II Interviewed by Nikola Danaylov of Singularity.FM

logo_bgGennady Stolyarov II
Nikola Danaylov


On March 31, 2018, Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, was interviewed by Nikola Danaylov, a.k.a. Socrates, of Singularity.FM. A synopsis, audio download, and embedded video of the interview can be found on Singularity.FM here. You can also watch the YouTube video recording of the interview here.

Apparently this interview, nearly three hours in length, broke the record for the length of Nikola Danaylov’s in-depth, wide-ranging conversations on philosophy, politics, and the future.  The interview covered both some of Mr. Stolyarov’s personal work and ideas, such as the illustrated children’s book Death is Wrong, as well as the efforts and aspirations of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. The conversation also delved into such subjects as the definition of transhumanism, intelligence and morality, the technological Singularity or Singularities, health and fitness, and even cats. Everyone will find something of interest in this wide-ranging discussion.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party would like to thank its Director of Admissions and Public Relations, Dinorah Delfin, for the outreach that enabled this interview to happen.

To help advance the goals of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, as described in Mr. Stolyarov’s comments during the interview, become a member for free, no matter where you reside. Click here to fill out a membership application.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party Responds to Jeremy Rifkin’s Plan for a Third Industrial Revolution

The U.S. Transhumanist Party Responds to Jeremy Rifkin’s Plan for a Third Industrial Revolution

Gennady Stolyarov II


Photograph of Jeremy Rifkin by Stephan Röhl

Editor’s Note: Below is a response to Jeremy Rifkin’s plan for a Third Industrial Revolution: A Radical New Sharing Economy by Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. The original post of this documentary can be found here.

    ~ Dinorah Delfin, Director of Admissions and Public Relations, U.S. Transhumanist Party, March 10, 2018

When it comes to Jeremy Rifkin’s thoughts on the future, and what humankind will and will not be able to accomplish, Arthur C. Clarke’s famous First Law encapsulates my reaction: “When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”

I think that Rifkin has many ideas that would be aligned with transhumanism, although his general worldview is not transhumanist in itself. I wholly support the concepts of the sharing economy, the goal of production at zero marginal cost, and the smart infrastructure that he describes would support the Third Industrial Revolution. A redesign of our infrastructure – especially in such a way that would facilitate modular upgrades at a local and even individual level – is essential for overcoming some of the current bottlenecks to technological progress and rising standards of living. I also think that Rifkin is correct that, in the short term, building this new infrastructure will require humans and will mean jobs for those humans. This is probably a good thing, although it is dependent on whether the systems for financing the new projects and appropriately recruiting and treating the workers (e.g., giving them high-quality jobs with good pay, safety precautions, and ample assistance from machines and narrow AIs where possible) can come together in time.

Where I think Rifkin falls short of the transhumanist vision is in his rejection of the goal of a society where basic human problems – including mortality and many of the other key causes of suffering – can be eliminated or at least greatly reduced. He characterizes this as “utopian” thinking, but at every stage of the way, the approach toward these goals would not be utopia, but rather steady improvement. It would be a shame to reject the goals especially as the technologies for making them possible are becoming available. As I have often stated, it is not a matter of if we will have indefinite life extension, but when – and this matters a lot from the standpoint of how many people alive today could be saved.

Where I also differ from Rifkin is that, instead of his focus on the negative (“humans are destroying the Earth”), I and the Transhumanist Party prefer to focus on the positive potentials (humans can improve both our own lives and the Earth through emerging technologies). Many of the solutions may look quite similar – e.g., smart infrastructure, greater energy-efficiency, and renewable energy sources that would move humankind away from fossil fuels (although, unlike Rifkin, I also strongly support the next generation of nuclear reactors, which would use thorium, would be meltdown-proof, and would not be subject to the need for cooling via massive amounts of water that Rifkin criticizes). I think that the way forward is through technological advancement; Rifkin is halfway there – certainly much better than the Neo-Luddite thinkers who have often dominated the environmental movement. But his goals are not in conflict with life extension, massive economic growth, and super-abundance of material prosperity for everyone. In fact, humans need to move along all of these avenues simultaneously and in parallel, as their achievements will reinforce one another and enable progress to occur more readily.

Article III, Section IX of our Platform – http://transhumanist-party.org/constitution/#Article3 – actually summarizes this sentiment quite nicely: “The United States Transhumanist Party supports all emerging technologies that have the potential to improve the human condition – including but not limited to autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, economical solar power, safe nuclear power, hydroelectricity, geothermal power, applications for the sharing of durable goods, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, nanotechnology, robotics, rapid transit, 3D printing, vertical farming, electronic devices to detect and respond to trauma, and beneficial genetic modification of plants, animals, and human beings.”

Again, Clarke’s First Law comes to mind. To the extent that Rifkin sees potential in any of the above technologies and others, he is correct. To the extent that he does not see it or considers those technologies to be detrimental, he is mistaken.

Beginners’ Explanation of Transhumanism – Bobby Ridge and Gennady Stolyarov II

Beginners’ Explanation of Transhumanism – Bobby Ridge and Gennady Stolyarov II

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Bobby Ridge
Gennady Stolyarov II


Bobby Ridge, Secretary-Treasurer of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, and Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, provide a broad “big-picture” overview of transhumanism and major ongoing and future developments in emerging technologies that present the potential to revolutionize the human condition and resolve the age-old perils and limitations that have plagued humankind.

This is a beginners’ overview of transhumanism – which means that it is for everyone, including those who are new to transhumanism and the life-extension movement, as well as those who have been involved in it for many years – since, when it comes to dramatically expanding human longevity and potential, we are all beginners at the beginning of what could be our species’ next great era.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside.

See Mr. Stolyarov’s presentation, “The U.S. Transhumanist Party: Pursuing a Peaceful Political Revolution for Longevity“.

In the background of some of the video segments is a painting now owned by Mr. Stolyarov, from “The Singularity is Here” series by artist Leah Montalto.

Abstract Orderism Fractals 68, 69, 70, 71, and 72 – Art by Gennady Stolyarov II

Abstract Orderism Fractals 68, 69, 70, 71, and 72 – Art by Gennady Stolyarov II

Gennady Stolyarov II


Note from U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II: Abstract Orderism Fractals 68, 69, 70, 71, and 72 were created in December 2017 as gifts for individuals who were instrumental to advancing the work of the United States Transhumanist Party or who have otherwise assisted me in profound ways. Each fractal communicates an aspect of the personality, values, and work of the person to whom it is dedicated.

Navigate to Individual Fractals

Abstract Orderism Fractal 68
Abstract Orderism Fractal 69
Abstract Orderism Fractal 70
Abstract Orderism Fractal 71
Abstract Orderism Fractal 72

Abstract Orderism Fractal 68

Abstract Orderism Fractal 68 – by G. Stolyarov II

Note: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of fractal art.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 68 is dedicated to Adeel Khan – a polymath whose never-ending curiosity and willingness to engage in discourse on a myriad of topics are just the attitudes that are necessary to achieve meaningful progress and make sense out of a complex world. Many of Adeel’s ideals align closely with mine, and he appreciates the multiple facets of the mindset needed to bring humankind into its next era – from the embrace of scientific reasoning to the support of the individual’s liberty to innovate.

Like Adeel’s interests, this fractal branches out in many different directions, but there are common overarching themes of improving our species! The path(s) toward a better world may be spiral in nature, but let all of us earnest thinkers explore them or forge our own.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 69

Abstract Orderism Fractal 69 – by G. Stolyarov II

Note: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of fractal art.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 69 is dedicated to B.J. Murphy, who has been a steadfast ally and a major contributor to the success of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, of which he serves as the Director of Social Media.

This fractal is gear-like in shape and in the impression of rotation it conveys. The gears at many scales symbolize the technologies that will form the backbone of the new transhuman civilization. B.J. extensively monitors, writes about, and contributes insights to the development of new technologies and entrepreneurial ventures, both on a large scale (for instance, space colonization) and on a small one (for instance, genetic engineering or cryptocurrencies, which exist as bits of code inhabiting physically tiny computer storage drives). The coppery orange color of this fractal is, of course, fitting for gears, but it also completes the color scheme for the U.S. Transhumanist Party, whose colors are orange and black. Orange, in particular, depicts the new political paradigm we seek to bring about. On the visible-light spectrum, orange is between red and yellow. In conventional politics, red has often been associated with socialism, while yellow has often found uses in libertarian symbols. B.J. has a history of involvement with socialist ideas and causes, while I have a (small “l”) libertarian background and sympathies (although the world and life are complicated!) – and yet the future cannot be won by either socialism or libertarianism as such. Rather, the orange color evokes our attempt to take the best aspects of these movements, leave behind ideas that did not anticipate the technological future, and invite all thinkers of good will to participate in the creation of the new era, whose political ideology will differ immensely from anything that came before. One reason why the Transhumanist Party has remained ecumenical and diverse – without being able to be pigeonholed as either “right” or “left” – is because B.J., like me and the rest of our Officer team, has understood and embraced the desirability of keeping it out of the political trenches and, instead, focused toward the stars.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 70

Abstract Orderism Fractal 70 – by G. Stolyarov II

Note: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of fractal art.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 70  is dedicated to Kim Bodenhamer Smith, who is herself an artist and combines a unique and extensive variety of passions and activities. One of these activities is unicycling in caves. (I am not sure just how she does it, but she does!) If you follow the progression of the circles in the center of this fractal, you will see the resemblance to a time-lapse of a unicycle wheel entering a cavernous tunnel. Of course, I made this fractal more colorful than the typical cave, because that would convey Kim’s personality more accurately.

In addition to sharing a commitment to truth and justice, Kim also has a highly creative mind and thinks outside of conventional parameters to seek solutions to today’s problems and ways to improve life on both large and small scales. She contributed great insights to our recent Discussion Panel on Art and Transhumanism, and she embraces technology and the innovative use of media in ways that get people thinking about how the world might be changed for the better. She has been a great ally to the U.S. Transhumanist Party as we seek these new paths that will lift humankind into its new era of advancement.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 71

Abstract Orderism Fractal 71 – by G. Stolyarov II

Note: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of fractal art.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 71 is an example of what happens when an artificial intelligence is fed desserts. I started out with a fractal that somewhat resembled an ornate display dish on which desserts might be served. Then I used the Google Deep Dream Generator to sequentially feed it images of cakes and cupcakes by Tiffany Henderson Bateman, who has a thriving baking business. As the AI was “dreaming” of delicious treats, the fractal was transformed! 

Abstract Orderism Fractal 72

Abstract Orderism Fractal 72 – by G. Stolyarov II

Note: Left-click on this image to get a full view of this digital work of fractal art.

Abstract Orderism Fractal 72 is dedicated to John Marlowe, whose staunch advocacy for patients of rare diseases is greatly needed in today’s medical system. In spite of his own struggles, John has found the time and energy to contribute to the transhumanist movement and has been a great friend of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, which embraces any and all efforts to increase medical research and funding toward combating as many rare diseases as possible. John has offered excellent insights on films and science fiction at the Discussion Panel on Art and Transhumanism, and I also enjoyed conversing with him at length at the Super Longevity Holiday Party in Newport Beach. John has been there for our movement and for me personally when we needed both a thoughtful and encouraging voice. We will be there for him and for everyone who needs the public, entrepreneurs, and officials alike to recognize the urgency of fighting every disease with the resources at our disposal.

This fractal might be best interpreted as a view from the top down of an upward spiral of progress, from which luminous flames fan out. This can be seen as an illustration that, from the advancement of medical science in general, specific insights and breakthroughs will arise to cure one disease after another – including rare ailments with no known cures today. We do not always know what the breakthroughs will be or which diseases will be defeated when – but the combination of scientifically informed hope and the ceaseless outward pushing of the boundaries of knowledge will improve the chances of as many people as possible. We have a long struggle ahead to win the war against disease and death, but with John as an ally, the Transhumanist Party will strive to make concrete differences for as many people as possible along the way.

About the Abstract Orderism Fractals

Each fractal above is a digital artwork that was created by Mr. Stolyarov in Apophysis, a free program that facilitates deliberate manipulation of randomly generated fractals into intelligible shapes.

This fractal is an extension of Mr. Stolyarov’s artistic style of Abstract Orderism, whose goal is the creation of abstract objects that are appealing by virtue of their geometric intricacy — a demonstration of the order that man can both discover in the universe and bring into existence through his own actions and applications of the laws of nature.

Fractal art is based on the idea of the spontaneous order – which is pivotal in economics, culture, and human civilization itself. Now, using computer technology, spontaneous orders can be harnessed in individual art works as well.

See the index of Mr. Stolyarov’s art works.

We Must Unite for an International Ban on AI Weaponry; A Real Solution to Survive the Singularity Along with What Lies Beyond – Article by Bobby Ridge

We Must Unite for an International Ban on AI Weaponry; A Real Solution to Survive the Singularity Along with What Lies Beyond – Article by Bobby Ridge

Bobby Ridge


I urge the United States Transhumanist Party to support an international ban on the use of autonomous weapons and support subsidies from governments and alternative funding into research for AI safety – funding that is very similar to Elon Musk’s efforts. Max Tegmark recently stated that “Elon Musk’s $10M donation to the Future of Life Institute that helped put out 37 grants to run a global research program aimed at keeping AI beneficial to humanity.”

Biologists fought hard to pass the international ban on biological weapons, so that the name of biology would be known as it is today, i.e., a science that cures diseases, ends suffering, and makes sense of the complexity of living organisms. Similarly, the community of chemists also united and achieved an international ban on the use of chemical weapons. Scientists conducting AI research should follow their predecessors’ wisdom and unite to achieve an international ban on autonomous weapons! It is sad to say that we are already losing this fight for an international ban on autonomous weapons. The Kalashnikov Bureau weapons manufacturing company announced that they have 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. (Amir Husain: “The Sentient Machine: The Coming Age of Artificial Intelligence“)

Even though, in 2015 and 1016, the US government spent only $1.1 billion and $1.2 billion in AI research, respectively, 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.” While these autonomous weapons are already being developed, the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) couldn’t even come up with a definition for autonomous weapons after 4 years of meeting up, despite their explicit expression for a dire concern for the spread of autonomous weapons. They decided to put off the conversation another year, but we all know that at the pace technology is advancing, we may not have another year to postpone a definition and solutions. Our species must advocate and emulate the 23 Asilomar AI principles, which over 1000 expert AI researchers from all around the globe have signed.

In only the last decade or so, there has been a combined investment of trillions of dollars towards an AI race from the private sector, such as, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Alibaba, Baidu, and other tech titans, along with whole governments, such as, China, South Korea, Russia, Canada, and only recently the USA. The investments are mainly towards making AI more powerful, but not safer! Yes, the intelligence and sentience of artificial superintelligence (ASI) will be inherently uncontrollable. As a metaphor, humans controlling the development of ASI, will be like an ant trying to control the human development of a NASA space station on top of their ant colony. Before we get to that point, at which hopefully this issue will be solved by a brain-computer-interface, we can get close to making the development of artificial general intelligence (AGI) and weak ASI safe, by steering AI research efforts towards solving the alignment problem, the control problem, and other problems in the field. This can be done with proper funding from the tech titans and governments.

“AI will be the new electricity. Electricity has changed every industry and AI will do the same but even more of an impact.” – Andrew Ng

“Machine learning and AI will empower and improve every business, every government organization, philanthropy, basically there is no institution in the world that cannot be improved by machine learning.” – Jeff Bezos

ANI (artificial narrow intelligence) and AGI (artificial general intelligence) by themselves have the potential to alleviate an incomprehensible amount of suffering and diseases around the world, and in the next few decades, the hammer of biotechnology and nanotechnology will likely come down to cure all diseases. If the trends of information technologies continue to accelerate, which they certainly will, then in the next decade or so an ASI will be developed. This God-like intelligence will immigrate for resources in space and will scale to an intragalactic size. To iterate old news, to keep up with this new being, we are likely to connect our brains to it via brain-computer-interface.

“The last time something so important like this has happened was maybe 4.2 billion-years-ago, when life was invented.” – Juergen Schmidhuber

Due to independent assortment of chromosomes during meiosis, you roughly have a 1 in 70 trillionth of a chance at living. Now multiply this 70-trillionth by the probability of crossing over, and the process of crossing over has orders of magnitude more possible outcomes than 70 trillion. Then multiply this by probability of random fertilization (the chances of your parents meeting and copulating). Then multiply whatever that number is by similar probabilities for all our ancestors for hundreds of millions of years – ancestors that have also survived asteroid impacts, plagues, famine, predators, and other perils. You may be feeling pretty lucky, but on top of all of that science and technology is about to prevent and cure any disease we may come across, and we will see this new intelligence emerge in our laboratories all around the world. Any attempt to provide a linguistic description for how spectacularly LUCKY we are to be alive right now and to experience this scientific revolution, will be an abysmally disingenuous description, as compared to how truly lucky we all are. AI experts, Transhumanists, Singularitarians, and all others who understand this revolution have an obligation to provide every person with an educated option that they could pursue if they desire to take part in indefinite longevity, augmentation into superintelligence, and whatever lies beyond the Singularity 10-30 years from now.

There are many other potential sources existential threats, such as synthetic biology, nuclear war, the climate crisis, molecular nanotechnology, totalitarianism-enabling technologies, super volcanoes, asteroids, biowarfare, human modification, geoengineering, etc. Mistakes in only one of these areas could cause our species to go extinct, which is the definition of an existential risk. Science created some of these existential risks, and only Science will prevent them. Philosophy, religion, complementary alternative medicines, and any other proposed scientific demarcation will not solve these existential risks, along with the myriad of other individual suffering and death that occurs daily. With this recent advancement, Carl Sagan’s priceless wisdom has become even more palpable than before; “we have arranged a society based on Science and technology, in which no one understands anything about Science and technology and this combustible mixture of ignorance and power sooner or later is going to blow up in our faces.” The best chance we have of surviving this next 30 years and whatever is beyond the Singularity is by transitioning to a Science-Based Species. A Science-Based Species is like Dr. Steven Novella’s recent advocacy, which calls for transition off Evidence-Based medicine to a Science-Based medicine. Dr. Novella and his team understand that “the best method for determining which interventions and health products are safe and effective is, without question, good science.” Why arbitrarily claim this only for medicine? I propose a K-12 educational system that teaches the PROCESS of Science. Only when the majority of ~8 billion people are scientifically literate and when public reason is guided by non-controversial scientific results and non-controversial methods, then we will be cable of managing these scientific tools – tools that could take our jobs, can cause incomprehensible levels of suffering, and kill us all; tools that are currently in our possession; and tools that continue to become more powerful, to democratize, dematerialize, and demonetize at an exponential rate. I cannot stress enough that ‘scientifically literate’ means that the people are adept at utilizing the PROCESS of Science.

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

References

Tegmark, M. (2015). Elon Musk donates $10M to keep AI beneficial. Futureoflife.org. https://futureoflife.org/2015/10/12/elon-musk-donates-10m-to-keep-ai-beneficial/

Husain, A. (2018). Amir Husain: “The Sentient Machine: The Coming Age of Artificial Intelligence” | Talks at Google. Talks at Google. Youtube.com. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcC5OV_oA1s&t=763s

Tegmark, M. (2017). Max Tegmark: “Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of AI” | Talks at Google. Talks at Google. Youtube.com. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYmKOgeoOz4&t=1208s

Conn, A. (2015). Pentagon Seeks $12 -$15 Billion for AI Weapons Research. Futureoflife.org. https://futureoflife.org/2015/12/15/pentagon-seeks-12-15-billion-for-ai-weapons-research/
BAI 2017 conference. (2017). ASILOMAR AI PRINCIPLES. Futureoflife.org. https://futureoflife.org/ai-principles/

Ng, A. (2017). Andrew Ng – The State of Artificial Intelligence. The Artificial Intelligence Channel. Youtube.com. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKpuX_yzdYs

Bezos, J. (2017). Gala2017: Jeff Bezos Fireside Chat. Internet Association. Youtube.com. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqL3tyCQ1yY

Schmidhuber, J. (2017). True Artificial Intelligence will change everything | Juergen Schmidhuber | TEDxLakeComo. TEDx Talks. Youtube.com. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Y7PLaxXUrs

Kurzweil, R. (2001). The Law of Accelerating Returns. Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence. Kurzweilai.net. http://www.kurzweilai.net/the-law-of-accelerating-returns

Sagan C. (1996). REMEMBERING CARL SAGAN. Charlierose.com. https://charlierose.com/videos/2625

Sbmadmin. (2008). Announcing the Science-Based Medicine Blog. Sciencebasedmedicine.org. https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/hello-world/

Scientists Identify Genes Implicated in the High Regenerative Capacity of Embryos and ESCs – Press Release by Biogerontology Research Foundation

Scientists Identify Genes Implicated in the High Regenerative Capacity of Embryos and ESCs – Press Release by Biogerontology Research Foundation

Biogerontology Research Foundation


CREDIT: AGEX THERAPEUTICS, INSILICO MEDICINE & THE BIOGERONTOLOGY RESEARCH FOUNDATION

Below is a press release by Biogerontology Research Foundation on the regenerative capacity of embryos and embryonic stem cells. This press release was originally published here.

~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, January 18, 2018

 

Friday, January 12, 2018, London, UK: Researchers at Insilico MedicineAgeX Therapeutics and the Biogerontology Research Foundation have published a landmark study titled “Use of deep neural network ensembles to identify embryonic-fetal transition markers: repression of COX7A1 in embryonic and cancer cells” in the journal Oncotarget.

In the study, researchers used deep-learning techniques to analyze gene expression data in embryonic stem cell (ESC) lines at varying stages of development in order to characterize the gene expression profile of cells right at the boundary of the embryonic-fetal transition, when embryos become fetuses and experience a remarkable reduction in their regenerative capacity. In essence, the study’s objective was to hone in on those genes responsible for the remarkable regenerative capacities of embryos and ESCs.

“This is another important step in the progress of Insilico Medicine and indicates that its suite of products is developing rapidly, with significant commercial revenues not far off,” said Jim Mellon, Trustee of the Biogerontology Research Foundation, Chairman of Juvenescence Limited and a key partner of Insilico Medicine.

Mimicking the gene expression profile of cells prior to the embryonic fetal transition in adult tissues and organs is the concept underlying one of the central and most ambitious therapeutic modalities being pursued by AgeX Therapeutics, namely induced Tissue Regeneration (iTR). Therapeutic elaboration of the insights derived from this study could pave the way for in-situ tissue regeneration, and its application to ageing and age-related disease.

“induced Tissue Regeneration (iTR) is one of the most promising therapeutic modalities for enabling in-situ tissue regeneration proposed to date, and one that is likely to bring substantial healthspan-extending effects if implemented. This landmark study paves the way toward that bright future. Interestingly, in its identification of COX7A1 as one of the genes implicated in the remarkable regenerative potential of embryos and ESCs, the study also extends the purview of these findings to novel potential cancer therapies as well,” said Franco Cortese, Deputy Director of the Biogerontology Research Foundation.

The authors also developed effective methods of deriving biologically-relevant information from these profiles, identifying the most interesting genes characterizing the regenerative capacity of ESCs, and performed additional experimental validation to support the findings of the study’s deep learning analysis. Interestingly, one of the genes implicated in the embryonic-fetal transition that the study identified, COX7A1, is dysregulated in a diverse array of cancer types, including breast, lung, kidney, bone and muscle. As such, the results of this study could be used create novel cancer therapies as well.

“AI is quickly becoming the main driver of progress in so many fields of science, technology and human endeavor that it is easy for one to lose count. From healthcare to finance to governance, AI is galvanizing rapid paradigm shifts all around us. Insilico Medicine is rapidly establishing themselves as the leader of AI for longevity, and the combination of their deep-learning expertise with the assets for expert experimental validation and interpretation possessed by AgeX Therapeutics is a partnership that has yielded significant synergistic results in using AI to yield novel insights into the biology of aging and charting the path toward next generation healthspan-extending therapies” said Dmitry Kaminskiy, Managing Trustee of the Biogerontology Research Foundation.

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Paper Reference: West M, Labat I, Sternberg H, Larocca D, Nasonkin I, Chapman K, Singh R, Makarev E, Aliper A, Kazennov A, Alekseenko A, Shuvalov N, Cheskidova E, Alekseev A, Artemov A, Putin E, Mamoshina P, Pryanichnikov P, Larocca J, Copeland K, Izumchenko E, Korzinkin M and Zhavoronkov A. Use of deep neural network ensembles to identify embryonic-fetal transition markers: repression of COX7A1 in embryonic and cancer cells, Oncotarget. 2017; in press, https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.23748

About the Biogerontology Research Foundation:

The Biogerontology Research Foundation is a UK non-profit research foundation and public policy center seeking to fill a gap within the research community, whereby the current scientific understanding of the ageing process is not yet being sufficiently exploited to produce effective medical interventions. The BGRF funds and conducts research which, building on the body of knowledge about how ageing happens, aims to develop biotechnological interventions to remediate the molecular and cellular deficits which accumulate with age and which underlie the ill-health of old age. Addressing ageing damage at this most fundamental level will provide an important opportunity to produce the effective, lasting treatments for the diseases and disabilities of ageing, required to improve quality of life in the elderly. The BGRF seeks to use the entire scope of modern biotechnology to attack the changes that take place in the course of ageing, and to address not just the symptoms of age-related diseases but also the mechanisms of those diseases.

About Insilico Medicine, Inc.:

Insilico Medicine, Inc. is a bioinformatics company located at the Emerging Technology Centers in Baltimore with R&D resources in 6 countries. The company is widely recognized by the industry for applying next-generation artificial intelligence technology to drug discovery and aging research. For its pioneering work in the applications of Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) and Reinforcement Learning (RL) and collaborations with the pharmaceutical companies, it was selected as one of the Top 100 AI companies 2018 by CB Insights and Top 5 AI companies for social impact 2017 by NVIDIA. The company pursues internal drug discovery programs in cancer, dermatological, metabolic and CNS diseases, sarcopenia, fibrosis and senescence. Company website: http://www.insilico.com

About AgeX Therapeutics:

AgeX Therapeutics, Inc., a subsidiary of BioTime, Inc. (NYSE American: BTX), is a biotechnology company applying technology relating to cellular immortality and regenerative biology to aging and age-related diseases. The company has three initial areas of product development: pluripotent stem-cell-derived brown adipocytes (AGEX-BAT1); vascular progenitors (AGEX-VASC1); and induced Tissue Regeneration (iTR). Initial planned indications for these products are Type 2 diabetes, cardiac ischemia, and tissue regeneration respectively. For more information, please visit http://www.agexinc.com or connect with the company on Twitter or Facebook.

The Best of the SENS AMA – Article by Steve Hill and Aubrey de Grey

The Best of the SENS AMA – Article by Steve Hill and Aubrey de Grey

Steve Hill

Dr. Aubrey de Grey


Editor’s Note: In this article, Steve Hill highlights the Ask Me Anything on Reddit held on December 7th by Dr. Aubrey de Grey.  This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                   ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, December 13, 2017

 

Dr. Aubrey de Grey from the SENS Research Foundation (SRF) did an Ask Me Anything on Reddit on December 7th, and there were many great questions and answers; we thought it would be a great time to summarize some of the best ones and offer a little commentary.

What do you think were the biggest wins of the last couple of years in SENS-relevant advocacy, research, and development? What has moved the needle?

There have been lots. On the research, I would highlight our paper in Science two years ago, which shows how to synthesize glucosepane, and our paper in Nucleic Acids Research one year ago, which shows simultaneous allotopic expression of two of the 13 mitochondrial genes. Both of those projects have been greatly accelerated in the meantime as a result of those key enabling breakthroughs; watch this space.

On advocacy, I think the main win has been the arrival of private capital; I would especially highlight Jim Mellon and his Juvenescence initiative because he is not only a successful, energetic and visionary investor, he is also a highly vocal giver of investment advice.

We are pleased to have been involved with the second project mentioned here, as we hosted the MitoSENS project at Lifespan.io, where it raised 153% of its initial fundraising goal. Less than a year later, after raising this money, it went on to publish the groundbreaking study showing that backup copies of mitochondrial genes could indeed be created in the nucleus. Dr. de Grey originally proposed the idea over a decade ago amid much scepticism; it is really good to see that years later he has been vindicated. This is the power of crowdfunding and how we as a community can make big changes in science by working together.

How do you feel about the impact of groups like LEAF advocating and reporting on rejuvenation biotech? Has the advocacy and reporting of these groups made your life any easier?

Massively! A huge thing that I say all the time is that advocacy absolutely relies upon the diversity of its messengers. Different people listen to different forms of words, different styles of messaging, etc. The more, the better.

It’s good to know that our work is appreciated and helping. Working together as a community is essential for progress, so it was nice to see this question and response from someone we respect a great deal.

We have said many times before effective advocacy efforts are just as important as the research itself. Professional advocacy has the potential to increase public support and funding, paving the way for the arrival of rejuvenation biotechnology. In the past decade or so, advocacy has mostly been left to volunteers and people such as Dr. de Grey.

Popular causes attract celebrities, public support, funding and investment; if we want a revolution in medicine and how we treat aging, then we must popularize the movement. There has been a serious shortage of full-time and organized advocacy; therefore, we decided to create LEAF to support groups like the SRF, advocate to popularize the cause, and help to raise much-needed funds for research efforts. We are only able to do this thanks to the support of the community, and we are extremely grateful to our Lifespan Heroes for helping us to do the work we do.

Aside from funding, what do you consider to be a burden or delay for your type of research?

Nothing. Seriously, nothing at all. We have the plan, and we have the people. It’s all about enabling those people by giving them the resources to get on with the job.

Indeed, funding for research is one of the four major bottlenecks slowing down the development of therapies that address the aging processes. The more funding the field gets, the more projects can be launched, the sooner breakthroughs can potentially happen, and the greater the benefits will likely be for all of us.

Is there anything new you are able to say about the breaking of cross-links in the extracellular matrix?

Absolutely. Short story, we now have a bunch of glucosepane-breaking enzymes, and we are within a few months of spinning the work out into a startup.

A suspected cause of degenerative aging is the accumulation of sugary metabolic wastes known as advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). These are wastes that are, in some cases, hard for our metabolism to break down fast enough or even at all. Some types, such as glucosepane, can form cross-links, gumming together important proteins such as those making up the supporting extracellular matrix scaffold.

The properties of elastic tissues (skin and the blood vessel walls) derive from the particular structure of the extracellular matrix, and cross-links degrade that structure, preventing it from functioning correctly. AGEs’ presence contributes to blood vessel stiffening with age, and it is implicated in hypertension and diabetes.

That SRF now has candidate enzymes is very significant because it means that there are now potential ways to remove these crosslinks from our tissues. There are many types of crosslinks, and we already know of compounds and drugs that can break other kind of crosslinks; the major problem is glucosepane, as it lasts a very long time, and, so far, nothing is known to remove it. Given that other types of crosslinks can be removed, Dr. de Grey rightly thought that there must be ways to remove (cleave) glucosepane from tissues; now, it seems that we are a step closer to that potentially becoming a reality.

If the SRF is successful in finding ways to break glucosepane crosslinks, this has huge implications for diabetes, hypertension and aging. It is great to hear that the organization is now reaching the point at which it is almost time to develop this as a therapy by creating a startup company.

It seems likely that artificial intelligence will be a necessary tool in order to reach longevity escape velocity. I was wondering how much of a role does artificial intelligence play in your research? Is this something you devote many resources to?

We don’t, but that is because other major players in this field (and good friends of mine), such as Alex Zhavoronkov and Kristen Fortney, are doing it so well already (with Insilico Med and BioAge, respectively). Check out the BioData West conference that will occur in SF a couple of days before our Undoing Aging conference in Berlin; I will be chairing a session on this.

We believe that the application of AI and, in particular, machine learning will prove to be a very valuable tool for research in the coming years. Such systems are ideally suited for high-throughput, laborious tasks that also require high attention to detail and would take humans a long time to do. Drug discovery, image analysis and many more tasks in the lab could potentially be automated, saving time and freeing up researchers to work on other critical tasks.

We are proud to have hosted the MouseAge project this year, which is an AI-based visual aging biomarker application that helps researchers determine the age of mice without the use of harmful tests. In a few months, researchers will be able to use the MouseAge application in the lab to help speed research progress up. This is just one example of how AI can be used in aging research and how the community helped to make it happen.

Given current funding, how far away from robust mouse rejuvenation do you think you are?

My estimate is 5-7 years, but that’s not quite “given current funding”. My overoptimism in saying “10 years” 13 years ago consisted entirely of overoptimism about funding – the science itself has not thrown up any nasty surprises whatsoever – but, nonetheless, I am quite optimistic as of now about funding, simply because the progress we have made has led to a whole new world of startups (including spinoffs from the SENS Research Foundation) and investors, so it’s not only philanthropy anymore. Plus, the increase in overall credibility of the approach is also helping to nurture the philanthropic side. We are still struggling, that’s for sure, but I’m feeling a lot surer that the funding drought’s days are numbered than I felt even two or three years ago.

Robust mouse rejuvenation (RMR) has long been a goal for the SENS Research Foundation, going back to when the SENS approach was initially proposed. RMR was originally outlined as being able to demonstrate and replicate SENS to double the remaining life expectancy of an already aged mouse. This would not mean the first RMR would be a total implementation of all the SENS approaches or that rejuvenation would need to be absolute; it would be a first pass to demonstrate the viability of multiple SENS approaches combined to produce robust results.

Being able to achieve a first-pass RMR could do much to convince academia that the repair approach to aging is plausible and attract more funding and interest in the approach. While RMR working in mice may not sound that exciting, it has huge implications for the field and potentially the rate of funding and progress.

How confident are you still in your previous prediction that humans will be able to control aging by 2029?

I think we’ve slipped a few years, entirely because of lack of funding. The tipping point will be when results in mice convince a critical mass of my curmudgeonly, reputation-protecting expert colleagues that rejuvenation will eventually work, such that they start to feel able to say so publicly. I think that’s on the order of five years away.

We think that the tipping point could well be if senolytics have the same result in humans as they have in mice. Enhanced tissue repair and regeneration in older people would be a very strong case for the repair approach to aging and almost certain to convince the academics sitting on the fence.

Certainly, if AGE breakers could be demonstrated to work in humans, this would also go a long way towards not only convincing academia but also grabbing public interest. Removing AGEs from the skin may potentially reverse wrinkles, for example, and restore skin elasticity, offering a very visual demonstration of repair being plausible.

There is almost certainly going to be a tipping point at which the bulk of academic and public support swings in favour of a repair approach to aging; the only question is when? Well, the sooner the basic science can be done and moved to translational research, the sooner we can all potentially benefit from these technologies. This makes supporting both the research and advocacy of rejuvenation biotechnology very important for progress.

 

About Dr. Aubrey de Grey

Dr. Aubrey de Grey is a biomedical gerontologist based in Cambridge, UK and Mountain View, California, USA, and is the Chief Science Officer of SENS Research Foundation, a California-based 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to combating the aging process. He is also Editor-in-Chief of Rejuvenation Research, the world’s highest-impact peer-reviewed journal focused on intervention in aging. He received his BA and Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in 1985 and 2000 respectively. His original field was computer science, and he did research in the private sector for six years in the area of software verification before switching to biogerontology in the mid-1990s. His research interests encompass the characterisation of all the accumulating and eventually pathogenic molecular and cellular side-effects of metabolism (“damage”) that constitute mammalian aging and the design of interventions to repair and/or obviate that damage. He has developed a possibly comprehensive plan for such repair, termed Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS), which breaks aging down into seven major classes of damage and identifies detailed approaches to addressing each one. A key aspect of SENS is that it can potentially extend healthy lifespan without limit, even though these repair processes will probably never be perfect, as the repair only needs to approach perfection rapidly enough to keep the overall level of damage below pathogenic levels. Dr. de Grey has termed this required rate of improvement of repair therapies “longevity escape velocity”. Dr. de Grey is a Fellow of both the Gerontological Society of America and the American Aging Association, and sits on the editorial and scientific advisory boards of numerous journals and organisations.

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.