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Is the Soul Digital or Analogue? – Article by C. H. Antony

Is the Soul Digital or Analogue? – Article by C. H. Antony

logo_bgC. H. Antony


I am probably not the ideal Transhumanist; I do believe that I have a soul, that it is more the essence of me than the sum of my neurons and how they interact with each other to create my thoughts, and that it is an extremely fragile thing. Should I die and preserve myself to be revived at a later date, I fear that I would never know of the success or failure of that endeavor. That a living breathing thinking person who acts like me and reasons like me will rejoin society is not in question; I only wonder that I might miss it as my essence passes on into some other form of existence… or worse – not. I do not believe that a digital substrate will, in fact, carry my soul on uninterrupted.

I want to explore the question of the soul for a moment. In The Singularity is Near (2005), Ray Kurzweil stated that the Calculations Per Second of the human brain are in the vicinity of 10 to the 14th power, based on the assumption, and rightly so, that each neuron in the brain could be considered a digital on/off or 1/0. Around six years ago, we began seeing articles describing microtubules in the axons of the neuronal cells that seemed to have quantum properties I freely admit to not understanding. I cheerfully invite anyone to correct me on this, but it seems that while the neuron either fires or doesn’t as it communicates with the neighboring cell, the microtubule seems to exist in a sort Schrödinger-like state of possibilities – like a multiplexing wire that might convey one piece of information by doing so at a particular combination of wattage, voltage, and resistance, then convey a completely different set of instructions with another combination of the same. It seems to me that if every neuron is operating in a digital on/off state, then 1014  computations per second (CPS) are likely given the average number of neuronal cells in the human brain, and if that number might be horribly wrong because of what we now know of the activity within the axon – then this suggests that superposition state of neural activity might very well be the essence of our consciousness and, if interrupted, could be lost and what remains would be something else only a comfort to those we would have left behind.

I agree that an entirely biological existence is not only a seriously limiting factor in our future development, but also something we are destined to outgrow and will do so. However, I would say that my ideal manifestation of this is a seamless combination of man and machine. Medical technology could eliminate all the senescence we suffer to the point where the next logical step is enhancement over a timeless organic form. I, for one, would hate to live for hundreds of years and gather all the knowledge and experience of those times only to die because of some future equivalent of a drunk driver. That in itself is good enough reason to fortify my existence any way I can. If that means that my body must be replaced with an artificial one, so be it. But, I want to keep my squishy, limited, fragile brain! I want my cake and to eat it, gleefully, with a nearly indestructible form that doesn’t need the cake, won’t get fat from it, and still let’s me enjoy the flavors and textures as I do now. I want to enjoy all the many hedonistic joys freely and with only greater precision than my limited biological form can experience.

I believe we’re seeing this very trend emerge and that the collective instinct of man is far more ready to accept an enhanced human/cyborg than uploading oneself to a purely artificial substrate. Evidence of this can be seen in the amazing promise of Elon Musk’s Neuralink project, the recent X-Prize challenge for a robot avatar, and the many amazing advancements in prosthetic limbs and organs. As I previously stated, medical technology will soon overcome senescence, allowing our tissues to go on indefinitely, so to essentially cure our brain of degeneration, enhance it with a neural mesh, and go about our lives in a perfected cybernetic body akin to Ghost in the Shell: Altered Architecture is probably a pretty good direction to be steering ourselves as Transhumanists. It’s also the most likely Next Step, if you will, considering how well society is conditioned for these themes. I would certainly feel more comfortable with my own enhanced mind in a perfect and durable body that can be easily upgraded and modified as the centuries pass.

So now I ask the members of this community to bring their thoughts here. What is your ideal existence?

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

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.

U.S. Transhumanist Party Discussion on Prosthetics, Neuroscience, and the Future of Human Potential

U.S. Transhumanist Party Discussion on Prosthetics, Neuroscience, and the Future of Human Potential

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Gennady Stolyarov II

Bobby Ridge

Scott Jurgens


U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II speaks with Secretary-Treasurer Bobby Ridge and Director of Applied Innovation Scott Jurgens regarding their areas of interest in research and study. Topics addressed include emerging advances in prosthetics, orthotics, 3D printing, 3D scanning, the science behind neuroplasticity, brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), artificial intelligence, and the societal implications of these technologies – including the extent to which they, combined with a universal basic income, may facilitate increased self-actualization by more people.

Conversations such as this one are prime examples of why the U.S. Transhumanist Party and the transhumanist movement are positioned to be the vanguard of the next era of our civilization, ready to rebuild it and take it to new heights, given sufficient recognition from and collaboration with the general public.

References

– Hugh Herr – “The new bionics that let us run, climb, and dance” – TED – March 2014
LimbForge – Enable Community Foundation
Autodesk Fusion 360
Thingiverse
– “Metal Gear Solid 5 Inspires an Amazing Prosthetic Arm” – Kendall Ashley – Nerdist – May 23, 2016

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