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Transhumanism and Tolerance – Article by Arin Vahanian

Transhumanism and Tolerance – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


In the midst of working on challenges as daunting and complex such as reversing aging, curing disease, and alleviating poverty, many people involved in Transhumanism understandably often do not have much time to stop and focus on other topics. This includes those not necessarily related to science, engineering, or medicine.

However, if we are to expand Transhumanism, change public perception, and debunk the claim that Transhumanism is a niche movement, I believe we should also explore themes that are less scientific or technical in nature. Indeed, we should focus not only on how Transhumanism is perceived among the general public, but we should also look at ourselves to see what sort of messages we are communicating through our daily words and actions.

If we agree that the main goal of Transhumanism is to ethically use science, technology, and other subjects in order to improve the human condition, then we are implying that Transhumanism can, and should, benefit all humans, and not just those who call themselves Transhumanists.

If this is true, then we must also take a deep look at whether our thoughts, beliefs, and actions are enabling all humans to partake in the benefits that we are advocating for, or whether we are unwillingly creating a gulf between those who agree with the goals of Transhumanism and those who disagree.

While terms such as “deathist” (used for people who argue that death is natural, inevitable, and even desirable) and “Luddite” (used for people who are opposed to new technologies) are usually well-intentioned, they come across as derogatory and might even dissuade people from getting involved in our movement and ultimately seeing its many benefits.

Indeed, nearly no one becomes receptive to a new idea if they feel they are being attacked. Rather, it is human nature to retreat and perhaps even become defensive when we feel that we are being criticized or when our worldview is being challenged.

We can find evidence to support nearly any conclusion. But rather than engage in mental gymnastics and become embroiled in needless debate, it is better to demonstrate one’s findings through action, with the intent of inspiring and enlightening, rather than lecturing and criticizing.

Transhumanism isn’t only for Transhumanists. It can be for anyone, whether that person is male, female, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, and no matter what occupation they hold or what their socioeconomic background may be. Indeed, a movement that promotes something as personal as morphological freedom (the right for one to modify their body as they wish) is a movement that is inclusive and empathetic to the needs of all humans, and not just a few.

Therefore, my call to action today is for us to be more tolerant of opposing viewpoints while at the same time demonstrating to the world the many benefits of Transhumanism and how it can improve the quality of life for humanity. Rather than vehemently arguing that a certain position is correct (while another is incorrect) with the hope that we will change people’s minds, we should calmly and rationally display how Transhumanism can improve the human condition, and then allow people to make up their own minds.

As much as it saddens me, there are plenty of people I have spoken with who say they do not wish to live indefinitely, and who do not believe the human life should be dramatically increased (even if that increase occurred alongside good health). No one can force anyone else to live healthier or longer. We must respect other people’s opinions, even if they differ from our own, and we must not take it upon ourselves to convince the whole of humanity to go down a certain path in life. Each person is responsible for their own life, and this includes the decision to take steps toward living longer and healthier.

What we should be focusing on, rather, is helping those who really want to be helped, while at the same time leaving the door open in the event that those who disagree might someday change their minds and decide to get involved in Transhumanism.

A movement, worldview, and philosophy with the word “human” in it shouldn’t be for a select few people. It should be for all humans, regardless of where they come from, what their socioeconomic background is, or what their religious or spiritual beliefs may be. This is because humanity, since the beginning of time, has strived to overcome challenges and transcend its limitations, and this desire isn’t limited to a small group of people.

Wanting to become a better person is part of being human. Defining ourselves as more than the sum of our limitations is what’s natural. If one of the goals of Transhumanism is to create better and more evolved humans, then we ourselves must be better and more evolved. We must set an example for the world of what is possible with the Transhumanist movement. And that begins with displaying traits such as tolerance, compassion, enthusiasm, and kindness, while working on projects and endeavors that will lead to improving the condition and quality of life for all humans.

Arin Vahanian is Director of Marketing for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

Exercise is Currently the Best Way to Slow Down Aging – Article by Michael Falk

Exercise is Currently the Best Way to Slow Down Aging – Article by Michael Falk

Michael Falk


Editor’s Note: In this article, Mr. Michael Falk explains how exercising slows down aging. This article was originally published by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF).

                   ~ Kenneth Alum, Director of  Publication, U.S. Transhumanist Party, January 25, 2018

We have all heard that exercise is good for our health. However, it can not only keep you healthy, it can also slow down some aspects of aging. Some researchers even think that it might be possible to use this knowledge to develop new therapies against aging. While waiting for that to happen, we need to exercise in order to slow down the effects of aging.

How important is it to keep fit?

So, how beneficial is exercising? Well, one of the best studies conducted on this subject showed that women will live 5.6 years longer and men 6.2 years longer if they exercise between 1 and 2.5 hours per week [1]. This makes exercise a better lifestyle choice than any other, at least as long as you’re not counting avoiding downright dangerous behavior, such as smoking.

The main benefits of physical activity may come from better health for the heart. Exercise lessens the risk for many types of heart disease [2]. It is even more beneficial for people who already suffered age-related conditions, including stroke and coronary heart disease, and it is more effective than any known drug in preventing repeated episodes [3].

The key improvements also include increased muscle strength, stronger bones, better weight control, and improved cognitive function. This means less risk of age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, as well as lethal falls, which are a major risk for the elderly.

The conclusion is that exercise helps with a lot of different aspects of your health in several ways, and we can summarize its effects as improving quality of life and increasing healthspan.

How much exercise do you need?

More exercise does not always improve outcomes. Professional athletes exercise more than the rest of us, and they generally live longer than the average person [4]. However, correlation isn’t causation, and robust individuals are perhaps more likely to become athletes, instead of the other way around. There could even be negative effects from too much exercise, although that is far from certain.

Even moderate exercise leads to better health. Half an hour a day seems to be enough to see positive effects, and it is also a common recommendation for the minimum amount of exercise you should get. The biggest difference can be seen between people who hardly move around at all and people who get at least a little exercise a few times a week. Taking the stairs and walking short distances is clearly better than nothing. In fact, some studies show that even light activity, such as housework, can have an effect on mortality risk.

It should also be noted that there are different types of exercise and that these could have different benefits. Jogging increases your aerobic ability, which should, among other things, lead to better heart health. Lifting weights is an anaerobic exercise that improves strength and should bring other benefits, such as stronger bones. A lot of research about this has been done already, but so far, we don’t definitively know the optimal amount and type of training for each particular type of person.

Drugs to mimic exercise

Some of the positive effects have to do with the anti-inflammatory processes that occur when exercising [5]. Other mechanisms appear to be involved, although more research on these mechanisms is needed.

Since the advantages of exercise are clear, the idea has occurred to some researchers that it may be possible to mimic the effects of exercise without doing the hard work and getting sweaty. Research is now being conducted using drugs that target the same mechanisms to try to get the same benefits of exercise.

This typically involves adjusting a part of the human metabolism, which is not an easy matter. However, there have been at least some tentative breakthroughs already, and last year, a team found a drug that boosted the endurance of mice by roughly 70 percent [6]. Where this might lead in the future is not clear, but some positive effects may come from this research.

Will exercise lead to longevity?

Even though exercise is beneficial for your health, there is no guarantee it will keep you alive until you reach 100, although staying fit will almost certainly improve your chances. This is why if we want to remain in good health and live longer, we need to develop rejuvenation biotechnology and therapies that address the aging processes directly. That said, if you want to increase your chances of living long enough to see these therapies arrive, then exercise is the best option you have right now.

Literature

[1] Schnohr, P., Lange, P., Scharling, H., & Jensen, J. S. (2006). Long-term physical activity in leisure time and mortality from coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases, and cancer. The Copenhagen City Heart Study. European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention & Rehabilitation, 13(2), 173-179.

[2] Jakovljevic, D. G. (2017). Physical activity and cardiovascular aging: Physiological and molecular insights. Experimental Gerontology.

[3] Naci, H., & Ioannidis, J. P. (2013). Comparative effectiveness of exercise and drug interventions on mortality outcomes: metaepidemiological study. Bmj, 347, f5577.

[4] Lemez, S., & Baker, J. (2015). Do elite athletes live longer? a systematic review of mortality and longevity in elite athletes. Sports medicine-open, 1(1), 16.

[5] Fan, W., Waizenegger, W., Lin, C. S., Sorrentino, V., He, M. X., Wall, C. E., … & Auwerx, J. (2017). PPARδ Promotes Running Endurance by Preserving Glucose. Cell Metabolism, 25(5), 1186-1193.

[6] Dimitrov, S., Hulteng, E., & Hong, S. (2017). Inflammation and exercise: Inhibition of monocytic intracellular TNF production by acute exercise via β 2-adrenergic activation. Brain, behavior, and immunity, 61, 60-68.

About Michael Falk

Michael Falk is a communication specialist with 15 years of experience writing about healthcare and technology. He has been an advocate of longevity research since 2013, when he started his longevity blog Unggamma (www.unggammal.se).

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.