Browsed by
Tag: health

The Overpopulation Myth – Article by Arin Vahanian

The Overpopulation Myth – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


Of all the objections to life extension, one of the most pernicious is that there are too many people on Earth. Indeed, this objection in particular is rather harmful not just because it appears to advocate for suffering and death, but also because it appears to be a valid objection on a surface level.

Visions of mass starvation, billions of people living in deplorable conditions, and wars over resources, help fuel the popularity of this objection. However fascinating these sorts of overly dramatic, sensational Hollywood scenarios may seem to some people, believing in the inevitability of these scenarios would be ignoring the countless ways that science and technology have allowed us, time and again, to exceed our limitations, improve health outcomes, and create a better environment for humanity to thrive in.

There are many reasons why these dreadful scenarios continue to exist in peoples’ minds. One of the reasons why doomsday thinking has managed to remain a part of our zeitgeist is because the entertainment industry is addicted to it, constantly proliferating nightmarish scenarios of technology being a destructive force hell-bent on the devastation of humanity and the world. A less obvious reason is also because some well-meaning influential people have been fabulously wrong and have continued to double-down on being wrong over the years.

Biologist Paul Ehrlich famously said in 1968 that “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.”

Looking at this statement more than 50 years later, Paul Ehrlich wasn’t just wrong, he was completely wrong. None of his Malthusian predictions even came close to being true. I suppose that supporters of this sort of doomsday thinking will say in response that even though Ehrlich has been wrong for decades, he will one day be right. Even if a broken clock is right twice a day, we shouldn’t base the future of humanity on such faulty thinking. While it is possible for these horrific scenarios to come true, it does not mean that these scenarios are destiny. Humanity has weathered challenges and difficulties en route to coming up with amazing technological and medical innovations that have improved the quality of life for billions of people. And while challenges such as climate change should be taken very seriously, the fact that these challenges exist does not mean that humanity is doomed. It simply means that we need to make adjustments and to utilize science and technology to their fullest in order to resolve these threats.

Further, rather than extrapolate wildly and bring forth doomsday scenarios, we should bring forth data and facts to support our arguments. As I mentioned in a previous article, according to The World Bank and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, the worldwide population growth rate is slowing down and is projected to eventually stabilize and begin falling. Nowhere is this more apparent than in countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain, China, Russia, and even the United States, where birth rates are below the 2.1 live births per woman required to just maintain population equilibrium. Additionally, even countries such as India, which used to have a very high birth rate, have seen huge declines in birth rates in recent years. Finally, according to a study published in the Lancet, the global population is expected to peak at 9.73 billion in 2064, before dropping to 8.79 billion in 2100. As a result, more than 23 countries are likely to see their populations halve by the end of this century. This includes countries such as Spain, Italy, Ukraine, and China.

Even if the above trends were somehow reversed, and human beings suddenly began reproducing more, we would be able to accommodate the increased population through solutions such as seasteading, vertical farming, 3D printing, and nanotechnology. Indeed, these technologies, and more, are among the many that would allow us to overcome limitations and alleviate potential threats resulting from an increased population. And I have not even begun speaking about space exploration.

The simple fact is that there is no fixed number of people who should be living on Earth at any given moment. In fact, we should rightfully be laughed out of the room if we asked the question, “What should the world’s population be?” We may as well ask how long a piece of string is. How many people is too many people? Further, how does one decide how many people is too many? Do you see how absurd this sort of thinking is? Even if we were to run detailed calculations on how many people the Earth could accommodate at any given point in time, what is true right now may not be true later, as planet Earth is dynamic, human beings are dynamic, and the forces of physics are dynamic. More importantly, we would be ignoring the awesome power of technology to allow us to do more, with less.

Therefore, let us move away from the pessimism, the doomsday scenarios, and the lack of vision, and move toward data, facts, science, and technological innovations that have allowed us, and will continue to allow us, to accommodate the needs of humanity. This does not mean that we should ignore challenges and perils and hope that everything will work out in the end. It does mean, however, that we should recognize the threats humanity is facing, and then take swift, concerted action toward eliminating those threats by using advancements in science, technology, and modern medicine.

But to go back to the topic, and frame the argument in a simpler way, one might want to ask proponents of the overpopulation myth whether they would have wanted their own parents to hold the same views about there being too many people on Earth. Of course, such critics of life extension would never want this to be the case, because it would mean that they themselves would not exist.

I would urge those who are critical of life extension to refrain from trying to decide how many people should be living on Earth. Indeed, rather than playing judge, jury, and executioner, I would recommend them to take a look in the mirror and appreciate the tremendous gift they were given – the gift of life. Had their parents held the faulty belief that there are too many people on Earth, these critics wouldn’t be able to offer their criticisms now. I am not suggesting that people should not offer valid criticisms of life extension. Nor am I suggesting that we gloss over the present and future challenges the Earth is facing. I am suggesting, however, that critics provide data, facts, and valid arguments to support their conclusions, rather than paint doomsday scenarios and claim that there are “too many people already.”  Indeed, the next time you hold a loved one in your arms, think about how you would feel if this person had never been born, or if this person was mercilessly ripped away from you.

So far, the likes of Thomas Malthus and Paul Ehrlich have been completely wrong with their predictions, though it is possible for them and others like them, to be right someday. However, we should not take pleasure in being right, we should take pleasure in being better people. Being right is not what is important – being able to actualize oneself, improve the human condition, and make the world a better place to live, is what is important. And we cannot do that if we extrapolate wildly, spread fear, and insist that humanity is doomed. The truth is that humanity’s future hasn’t even been written yet. But when we do write it, we should do so utilizing the best that science and technology have to offer, in order to improve the human condition.  Overpopulation, calamity, and starvation are not destiny – but human improvement is, and has been, since the dawn of time.

Arin Vahanian is the Vice-Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. 

Judge, Jury and Executioner Syndrome – Article by Arin Vahanian

Judge, Jury and Executioner Syndrome – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


The topic of life extension seems to bring forth strong emotions from people. While living longer and healthier is a goal that nearly all people say they have, there are critics of life extension who have become quite vociferous in their opposition to extending the human lifespan.  The truth is, living a longer and healthier life shouldn’t be controversial at all. After all, it is what we humans have been trying to do since day one.

However, when the topic turns to living a healthy life indefinitely, critics seem to come out of the woodwork, citing various reasons why humans should not live radically longer. While each of the major objections to life extension deserves its own space (and its own rebuttal), one objection, in particular, is rankling in its lack of substance – that human beings already live long enough.

As ridiculous as this objection is, we need to address it, not only because of the amount of damage it does to humanity by limiting life-extension research, but also because it causes unnecessary pain and suffering. People who present this objection have what I like to call “Judge, Jury, and Executioner Syndrome.”

I can’t imagine that people in the 14th century suffering and then dying from the Bubonic Plague at age 20 or 30 would have considered their life to have been “long enough.” In the same way, nor could I imagine that someone would actually find declining and then dying from an aging-related disease such as dementia at age 75 to be desirable.

But how long is long enough? Is it 40 years, like it used to be in 19th-century England? Or is it 82 years, as it is in modern-day Japan? Or is it 100 years?

It is difficult to answer this question, because there is no correct answer to the question.

However, rather than going down a rabbit hole, the best way to answer such critics is to ask them why they get to decide how long people should live. Of course, they have no right whatsoever to decide how long the human lifespan should be. This should end the conversation right then and there, but sadly, in some cases, it does not.

To go further, one might want to ask these critics whether they believe their parents or grandparents, if they are still alive, have lived too many years and whether they would want them to die quickly because they have already lived “long enough.” Or, even better, we should ask critics of life extension how many years they think their children should live (if they have children). Of course, no one, other than a psychopath, would wish such suffering and death upon their loved ones.

Therefore, it appears that people who oppose life extension on the basis that humans already live long enough, tend to only hold this view toward other people, and not themselves or their loved ones. This seems to me to be horribly cruel, not to mention illogical. However, we should not consider those who claim they are satisfied with the 82-year lifespan for themselves, as being nobler or more altruistic than other people. After all, they are still trying to play judge, jury, and executioner!

The argument that human beings already live long enough attacks the very core of what it means to be human. Human beings are designed to want to survive, and to continue living. Otherwise, we would have stopped trying to live longer a long time ago, and as a consequence, we would have stopped trying to find cures for diseases such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. The very fact that we are so dedicated to finding cures for conditions that have ravaged humanity is proof that we are dedicated to living longer and healthier. There is no rule that says that human beings can only live until 100 years old, or that they are not allowed to try to live longer.

Of course, just as no one may decide how long the human lifespan should be, neither should we force those who do not want to live longer and healthier, to live longer and healthier. This is a personal choice that everyone must make for themselves. But opponents of life extension do not have the right, nor do they have the ability, fortunately, to decide how long the human lifespan should be.

Even if there is some unalterable limit to how long a human lifespan can be, wouldn’t it be better to come to this conclusion and obtain closure after conducting medical and scientific research, rather than hastily quitting, and in the process, damning all of humanity to pain, suffering, and death, solely to satisfy a falsely held belief that humans already live long enough?

I understand that no matter what I may be arguing in this article, there will always be people who do not want to live much longer and healthier than they do now, for whatever reason. While I respect their decision to not want to extend their own life, I also ask them to respect my wishes to live longer and healthier. Surely this seems like a fair position to take.

There is absolutely no reason at all to apologize for wanting to live a healthy life indefinitely. No one should be asking, “Why do you want to live longer?” Rather, we should be asking, “How can we live longer and healthier?” This sort of inclusive, optimistic, and honest approach will go a long way toward removing some of the obstacles to life extension, thus putting humanity just a bit closer to attaining what it has been seeking since the beginning of time – to live a longer, healthier life.

Arin Vahanian is the Vice-Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. 

2021 New Year’s Message by Victor Bjoerk

2021 New Year’s Message by Victor Bjoerk

logo_bg

Victor Bjoerk


2021 has arrived, and it’s time for my yearly New Year’s message!

Since we all know how the world has been affected this year, there’s no point in mentioning the virus, but quite a few things happened for me.

At the beginning of this year and spring I was living in San Francisco and working on aging at BioAge. However, BioAge had to temporarily shut down because of COVID, but this wasn’t a big deal for me since I was able to transfer to Ichor Therapeutics in Syracuse, New York, which remained operational. So I got to work at two awesome leading biotech companies in the Longevity field, where I gained a lot of specific know-how which I am very grateful for!

I returned to Europe a few weeks ago, and shortly I’ll have some more exciting things to announce that I will be working on!

So yes, a lot of lemons were handed out this year worldwide, but I felt I did a decent job at making lemonade out of them. I’m a very positive person with a grand vision of wiping out all age-related disease within the next few decades, so that everybody can live as long as they want in a 25-year old body.

Some do not have that approach, they think “Longevity” means some slight health improvement by diet/exercise. Others study some aspect of aging because they want a PhD and some academic credentials (using aging as an excuse to refer to for that); however, this causes a generalized lack of a big-picture perspective for what’s going to work.

That is not me. I robustly and consistently keep up the interest until the mission is fully accomplished. In my personal roadmap I’ve developed for impacting aging, I emphasize the transdisciplinary scientific fields that are going to produce good outcomes (that may be hidden as, e.g.,“proteomics” rather than explicitly stated as “anti-aging”).

I also put an equal weight on the “business aspect” here, since your impact won’t be that big without the correct biotech business know-how, especially as AI and robotics wipe out the lab workers. Drug development and clinical trials are complex fields with 15-20 years from initial discovery to approved product. In addition, raising capital and advocacy to the public are as important as knowing the basic biology itself.

A lot of things in history have also been grotesquely mismanaged and squandered because of predictable human error, not because of the intrinsic difficulty of the science itself. There are a lot of golden nuggets laying around the labs in the world right now, and lots of resources and techniques are at our fingertips, but how will they be combined and implemented into an individual in order to cure them from aging? And how will this cocktail of interventions that forms the ultimate cure of aging be implemented across the world just like the efforts currently underway with the COVID vaccine?

A lot of setbacks are reversible and temporary, such as a lack of money and success or whatever people feel this year has caused them; aging is profoundly more serious.

During the year I read, as usual, many hundreds of scientific papers to keep up with the aging field, and also I have several publications I’ve produced, coming out now during 2021 (unfortunately peer-review takes time). I participated in many aging conferences, including one in Curacao, which meant a week of swimming in the tropics (how enjoyable!).

So yes, I felt I did many things well despite the challenges. Of course, things could always have been done better in retrospect, but that’s what one always says.

My New Year’s celebration this year isn’t very special because of all restrictions, but I wish you all a happy new year!

I have some typical New Year’s resolutions like getting fitter (but not motivating with all gyms and pools being closed, so some coaching is required), and of course continuing with the aging mission. So I’ll leave the question now to the reader: What have you done this year, and what good do you feel you can do for next year?

Victor Bjoerk has worked for the Gerontology Research Group, the Longevity Reporter, the Fraunhofer-Institut für Zelltherapie und Immunologie, BioAge, and Ichor Therapeutics. He has promoted awareness throughout Europe of emerging biomedical research and the efforts to reverse biological aging. In his honor the U.S. Transhumanist Party organized the Victor Run 2020 Virtual Race on June 5-7, 2020. 

Breaking the Bottleneck: A Synergy of Technology and Medicine – Article by Zach Richardson

Breaking the Bottleneck: A Synergy of Technology and Medicine – Article by Zach Richardson

logo_bg

Zach Richardson


In March of 2019, I began to have a very strange problem. I was breathing normally, but felt like I was suffocating. The problem became much worse when lying down, but seemed to come and go arbitrarily. Some days it would be really bad, and on others I didn’t even notice it. This happened twice in a week, and I checked with a doctor. He assured me I had anxiety and gave me a prescription for some anxiolytic medicine. I couldn’t breathe, and his solution was Xanax. I stupidly trusted him.

In May 2019, I ended up in the hospital. My body was turning yellow, and my liver, kidneys, and heart were failing. The cause was idiopathic; none of the 7 specialists knew why I was having congestive heart failure. A couple of drugs were tried, but in the end the only solution they said would save my life was the implantation of a mechanical device that would help my heart pump: a Ventricular Assist Device, or VAD.

I was lucky enough to be selected as a perfect candidate for a clinical trial, partially due to being particularly young for having Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). A new version of an already cutting-edge technology would be tested on my body, and the results would be recorded for their study. The machine they implanted was called the Heartmate 3, and it saved my life.

The VAD is currently used either as “bridge” or “destination” therapy, with “bridge” meaning that it is used only temporarily until one can get a heart transplant, and “destination” meaning that one is ineligible for transplant at all, and will have the VAD for the rest of one’s life. Some of the contraindications for VAD implantation being bridge therapy include being obese or over 65 years of age. Luckily, I am not either of those two, and therefore am eligible for a transplant. However, there are two factors that are going to lead to it likely being an extremely long time before a donor heart is available. One is that I am a larger man, standing at 6 feet tall, meaning I require a larger-than-average heart. The other is that I have Type O blood, which is the hardest from the standpoint of receiving an organ donation.

This puts me in a very interesting situation, where I am a young man who may have many years still ahead of him with an implanted device. It may be 7 years from now when I get the call for transplant, or it may be tomorrow. If it happens 7 years from now, there may be therapies that will have been developed that would allow me to regrow my heart, or clone one from my stem cells, and thereby avoid having to be on a cocktail of immunosuppressants indefinitely. Unfortunately, even Athersys only has CHF treatments in the preclinical stage, which means I may have to wait a while. I intensely wish those trials weren’t being constrained like they are.

Having set significant life extension towards the very top of my hierarchy of values, I am extremely grateful that I live in a society where these technologies are available to me. I have a highly personal interest in seeing a society of scientists and biomedical engineers emerge to help develop these technologies! However, part of my situation was just me getting lucky: I had the treatment I needed approved just months before receiving it, and happened to have top-notch insurance.

One unfortunate side effect of having a centralized regulatory system is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is only held responsible for what are known as “Type I Errors”. A Type I error is where the FDA passes an unsafe drug or treatment, leading to harm to an individual or group. Unfortunately, this means that FDA officials do not seem to care at all about “Type II Errors”, where they do not pass a life-saving treatment or drug in time to save someone’s life. The FDA is so terrified of having another Vioxx incident, that FDA officials are overly cautious in approving the use of radically innovative and breakthrough technologies. The fact that these technologies carry some risk is something of no worry to someone who is going to die if they don’t get the treatment. It is much harder to blame the FDA for being too safe than it is to blame them for being reckless.

This is why I am proud to be a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party (USTP), where science and technology are put at the forefront of American politics. The current bottleneck those like me with CHF face is regulatory hurdles. Article VI, Section VI, of the USTP Constitution states: “The United States Transhumanist Party upholds morphological freedom—the right to do with one’s physical attributes or intelligence whatever one wants so long as it does not directly harm others.” Right now what I and others with CHF would like to do is to get a stem-cell heart. We are being hindered not by direct legislation restricting morphological freedom, but by the far more pernicious hindrance of excessive regulatory burden. The treatments we want are being developed exponentially slower than they could be, because each step of the way has to adhere to draconian testing standards. This means a lot of Type II errors are being committed. We are not being told, “You cannot get this treatment.” Providers are being told, “You cannot provide this treatment.”

In my ideal world, regulatory agencies would work more like Underwriters Laboratories or Quality Assurance International. Leaving regulatory activity to the market, far from the fearmongering of producing dangerous and shoddy drugs and treatments, would instead invigorate the institutions as they would compete to certify the best products and treatments for consumers, since their names and reputations would be on the line.

I believe there needs to be a much stronger focus in regulatory institutions toward the elimination of Type II Errors, because there are a lot of sick people going untreated.

Zach Richardson is a Certified Supply Chain Professional and small-business co-owner producing respirator-style masks to help stem the tide of COVID-19’s spread. His website is isgmanufacturing.com. He is a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

Results of the Victor Run 2020 Virtual Race – June 5-7, 2020

Results of the Victor Run 2020 Virtual Race – June 5-7, 2020

logo_bg

Gennady Stolyarov II


The United States Transhumanist Party (USTP) is pleased to announce that its first-ever virtual running race, the Victor Run 2020, has come to a successful conclusion with 29 runners participating and $1,290 raised to help longevity researcher Victor Bjoerk relocate to a paid research position with Ichor Therapeutics in Syracuse, New York. This virtual race has inspired numerous runners to undertake bold and challenging feats during the weekend of June 5-7, 2020, for the advancement of longevity, health, and fitness. Victor Bjoerk himself participated in the race and ran his first marathon, self-supported – a great achievement! Congratulations to Victor and to all of the runners for taking part in this experiment. All participants will be rewarded with custom finisher medals, and there will be additional awards to the top 3 finishers by gender. Medals are currently in production, and it is expected that they will be sent to participants in late June 2020.

This race embodied the goal of indefinite longevity by setting no limit on how long participants could run. Indeed, it was a race that rewarded the most persistent! The scoring for the race relied on a unique metric that combined distance, speed, and elevation gain in a manner that gave any participant the opportunity to win with sufficient determination.

We congratulate the top 3 finishers in each gender category:

First-Place Male and Overall – David Ravarino
Second-Place Male and Overall – Chris Badolato
Third-Place Male and Overall – Bill Andrews

First-Place Female – Jess Haltom
Second-Place Female – Carla Katz
Third-Place Female – Karen Carlson

Overall Race Standings

Top 3 Finishers – Overall/Male and Female

Male Finishers

Female Finishers

Proposal for Argentina to Declare a Mandate for Longer Life Spans and the Reasonable Treatment of Aging as an Ailment

Proposal for Argentina to Declare a Mandate for Longer Life Spans and the Reasonable Treatment of Aging as an Ailment

logo_bg


A National Techno-Progressive Policy Proposal for Argentina to Declare a Mandate for Longer Life Spans and the Reasonable Treatment of Aging as an Ailment

Respectfully Submitted to the Ministry of Health of Argentina

The United States Transhumanist Party (USTP) has been associated with public health initiatives and emerging-technology policymaking since 2014; we have many State-level parties, associates, partner organizations, and foreign ambassadors around the world. At this time in history and out of a sense of duty to the future, we are compelled to submit this public-policy proposal designed to not only enhance the public health and prosperity of Argentina, but also to make it a model for techno-optimistic progress around the world.

As such the USTP humbly submits this proposal to the Minister of Health of Argentina to work together to assure the prevention of future pandemics and jointly tackle broader health concerns with life extension as its goal. It is our intention with this proposal to encourage the Minister of Health of Argentina to declare a mandate for longer life spans and the reasonable treatment of aging as an ailment.

Purpose: This declaration promises to generate accolades from the global community for the Minister of Health particularly and Argentina generally as forward-thinking and serious leaders in the future of human welfare and scientific development. It will ensure that Argentina will be recognized as the world’s first techno-optimistic, progressive constitutional democracy. 

Benefit to the Argentine Government from accepting this proposal: The USTP holds that this bold declaration will further enhance Argentina’s status in the Western Hemisphere. Aside from the importance to humanity that this declaration provides in the name of Science, it will act to promote tourism and investment, and to encourage more civic undertakings from an increased interest in Argentine affairs.  

The USTP will be approaching the governments of San Marino and Liechtenstein to persuade them to make similar declarations in the wake of this worldwide pandemic. However, we are reaching out to the home country of Salvador Mazza to champion this cause to inspire other nations to follow your lead and provide citizens with a new level of public health services and longer lives. 

We look forward to your response and the potential of working with Minister Ginés González García and his capable team.

Signed, 

Gennady Stolyarov II, FSA, ACAS, MAAA, CPCU, ARe, ARC, API, AIS, AIE, AIAF, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party

J. Ben Zion, Vice-Chairman and 2020 U.S. Presidential Candidate, United States Transhumanist Party

Charlie Kam, Director of Longevity Outreach and 2020 U.S. Vice-Presidential Candidate, United States Transhumanist Party

Tom Ross, Director of Media Production, United States Transhumanist Party

Pavel Ilin, Secretary, United States Transhumanist Party

Daniel C. Elton, Ph.D., Director of Scholarship, United States Transhumanist Party

David Shumaker, Director of Applied Innovation, United States Transhumanist Party

Arin Vahanian, Director of Marketing, United States Transhumanist Party

B.J. Murphy, Director of Social Media, United States Transhumanist Party

Dinorah Delfin, Director of Admissions and Public Relations, United States Transhumanist Party

John J. Kerecz, Campaign Director, United States Transhumanist Party

Brent Logan Reitze, Director of Publication, United States Transhumanist Party

Dr. Christian Meniw, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in Argentina

Henry Hoyos, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in Bolivia

Keoma Ferreira Antonio, MSc, Ph.D. Student, Philosopher, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in Brazil

Bill Andrews, Ph.D., President and CEO, Sierra Sciences, Biotechnology Advisor to the United States Transhumanist Party

José Luis Cordeiro, MBA, Ph.D., Technology Advisor to the United States Transhumanist Party, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in Spain

Alexey Kadet, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in Latvia

Ojochogwu Abdul, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in Nigeria

Peter Wang, United States Transhumanist Party Foreign Ambassador in China

Paul A. Spiegel, J.D., Legal Advisor to the United States Transhumanist Party

Micah Redding, Advisor on Religion to the United States Transhumanist Party

Elizabeth Parrish, CEO, BioViva, and Advocacy Advisor to the United States Transhumanist Party

Newton Lee, Chairman, California Transhumanist Party, and Education and Media Advisor to the United States Transhumanist Party

Rich Lee, Biohacking Advisor to the United States Transhumanist Party

Daniel Yeluashvili, Climate Advisor to the Ben Zion 2020 Presidential Campaign

Michael Murray, Director of Environmental Science, California Transhumanist Party

Dr. Efi Roboti, Obstetrician-Gynecologist Surgeon and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Romina Florencia Cabrera, UNLP-UBA-UM-USAL,  Abogada,  Investigadora-Docente-Asesora-Consultora, Argentina, Chile e Iberoamérica

Raiany Romanni, Harvard Medical School, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Natasha Vita-More, Ph.D., Executive Director, Humanity+

Maria Entraigues Abramson, Global Outreach Coordinator, SENS Research Foundation

David Kekich, President and CEO, Maximum Life Foundation

Ben Goertzel, Chief Scientist and Chairman, Novamente, LLC, Chairman, OpenCog Foundation, Chair, Humanity+

Sergio Martínez de Lahidalga Tarrero, President, Alianza Futurista

Alex M. Vikoulov, Founder, CEO, and Editor-in-Chief, Ecstadelic Media Group

Michael Hope, Biogerontologist

Matthew Schenk, Geroscientist and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

John Marlowe, Advocate for Rare Disease Research, Regenerative Medicine, and Rejuvenation Biotechnology

Elena Rusyn, Founder, AmpliCell Medical, and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Joe Bardin, Essayist, Playwright, Communication Strategist, RAADfest Communications Director, and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Dr. Ilia Stambler, Chairman, Israeli Longevity Alliance

Brent NallyEntrepreneur, Interviewer, Longevity and Health Enthusiast, and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Didier Coeurnelle, Co-Chair of Heales.org (Healthy Life Extension Society), Vice-Chair of the Association Française Transhumaniste Technoprog, and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Kelvin Ogba DafiaghorCEO, Ogba Educational Clinic

Osinakachi Akuma Kalu, Founder, Transdisciplinary Agora for Future Discussions, and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Negash Alamin, Head of CAMIDRCS Nature Media and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Orji Ama Chinedu, Attorney in Lagos, Nigeria

Victor Bjoerk, Heales.org (Healthy Life Extension Society) and Gerontology Research Group

Martin O’Dea, Partner, Longevity Accelerator, and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Kevin Perrott, Entrepreneur and Co-Founder, Methuselah Foundation and SENS Research Foundation

Yifei Sun, President and CEO, International Institute for Innovation and Development

Brandon Michael King, Co-Founder and Organizer, Longevity Party United States, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Eric Schulke, Activist with the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Maitreya One, Transhumanist Hip-Hop Artist and Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Jennifer Huse, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Tom Hite, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Kimberly Forsythe, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

James Kohagen, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Daud Sheikh, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Amanda Stoel, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Montie Adkins, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Mike DiVerde, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Chet Fontenot, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Christopher Browning, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Nick Dunn, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Art Ramon, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Renato Galindo Caceres, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Marcus Dreitzler, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Alexander Taylor Clayton, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Jason Geringer, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Dawn Gilroy, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Adam Perrotta, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

AtmaJodha Singh, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Andrew Eckley, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Allen Crowley, USA LTC (Retired), Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Erin Reeve, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

William G. Echevarria Fernandez, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Brent Ellman, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Thomas James O’Carroll, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Luis J. Arroyo, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Simon Stiel, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Alexandria Black, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Michał Szymacha, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Corbin Stefan, Dosimetrist, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Anthony Bruce, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Rima Martin, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Jiri Jelinek, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Quinn Cummins-Lune, Member, United States Transhumanist Party, Member, The Futurist Foundation

Mike Cockrill, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Zach Richardson, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Chris McAulay, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Justin Fontenot, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Valerie Handlers, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Jessica Gifford, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Joshua Gifford, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Zipporah Naomi Pecot, Member, United States Transhumanist Party

Hugh Ching, BS, MS, ScD

C. JoyBell C., Science Writer

Michael Beight

John Greenwood

Azure Michalak

Ryan Moisik

Kari Alatalo

Billy McCarthy

Fabian Pudlo

Walter H. Crompton

Adam Moser

Steven Mejia

Jeffrey Mercer

Marius Fusariu

Patricia A. Ray

Brett Mvrk

Kris McHale

Audrey Joyce

Mario Thibert

NOTE TO READERS: If you would like to digitally sign this proposal, please indicate this in the comments, or send an e-mail to USTP Chairman Stolyarov here. Please note that, if this is your first instance commenting on this website, your comment will go through moderation, but we will approve it in the near future and add your signature to the list above.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party Proposal for Widespread Hospital Construction: Now Is the Time to Act – Article by Mike Diverde

The U.S. Transhumanist Party Proposal for Widespread Hospital Construction: Now Is the Time to Act – Article by Mike Diverde

logo_bg

Mike Diverde


When U.S. Transhumanist Party (USTP) Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II proposed widespread hospital construction in the United States, I thought it was a good idea, but I felt that it was unlikely to become reality, due to the incredible costs involved. I didn’t think that there would be much political support for that effort. I didn’t see any way to make progress on this, primarily because the USTP is a very small party. However, this pandemic has sharply focused attention on the dearth of hospital capacity in the United States. The USTP led the way in March 2020 with Article VI, Section XCVIII, of the Constitution of the United States Transhumanist Party. Naturally, motivating both the Democrats and the Republicans to support our plan is going to be necessary.

I have recently heard two Democrats expounding at length about the need to spend more money in bolstering our healthcare system. (I’ll include extensive quotes later on.)

In addition, I have recently heard Trump at his press conference stating that he is having discussions with the Democrats on infrastructure spending. Constructing hospitals definitely falls in the category of infrastructure improvement.

So at least as long as this pandemic has the attention of the American people, there is a possibility – a realistic possibility – that our platform plank could be adopted by both the Democrats and Republicans and be implemented.

First, I went and looked for some background facts. I don’t have any idea what’s going on in American hospitals. But I knew that there had to be some relatively basic data on hospitals and the American population. (I’m going to state the round numbers here. I will include details and web links later.)

Consider the time period basically between 1980 and 2020: 40 years in America. The total number of hospitals in the United States in 1980 was approximately 7,000. Today the number of hospitals is approximately 5,500. So there has been an elimination of 1,500 hospitals over the 40-year period under consideration. The population of America in 1980 was 220 million. The population of America in 2020 is 330 million. America has increased in population by 50%, but the number of hospitals to care for those people has declined by 20%.

Now this does not indicate whether or not there is a sufficient number of hospitals to have a surge capacity for an epidemic. This just indicates that we have far fewer hospitals per capita than we had 40 years ago. The real question is: how many should we have?

Now I want to draw a parallel with a completely different item. When the Army Corps of Engineers started working on controlling American rivers to prevent the catastrophic flooding that had occurred from time to time, they developed a yardstick in which they estimated a 500-year flood, and a 200-year flood, and a 100-year flood, and a 50-year flood. And they use those estimates of some worst-case scenarios to properly design the dams and levees for the rivers in America.

I’m going to suggest that we need similar yardsticks for American hospitals. Now these yardsticks would take experts years of study to prepare properly. I’m going to make one up for illustrative purposes and then compare it to the yardstick in the USTP platform. The USTP used this yardstick in Section XCVIII: one new hospital per 50,000 people. This yields 6,600 new hospitals as a goal in the US today. There are about 5,500 hospitals in the US today, which means that we would have a total of 12,100 hospitals if this plan were implemented. Alternatively, I am going to speculate that at a minimum we need to have the same quantity of hospitals per capita that we did in 1980. That may not be sufficient but let’s use that as a yardstick to continue this discussion. If I use the same per capita ratio as 1980 that calculation yields 10,000 hospitals. There are about 5,500 hospitals in the US today, which means that we would need to build 4,500 new hospitals. This indicates that the range of construction in the US may be between 4,500 and 6,600 new hospitals.

And a side note here: when I talk about hospitals, the discussion must include surge capacity for beds, and ventilators, and test kits, and personnel, etc. The plan needs to include everything that supports the hospital. This is not just a construction project. This is a plan to protect Americans in the event of an epidemic.

The goal here is to propose to Democrats that the health and welfare of the American citizens is at risk without more hospitals, and it is clear that low-income minority populations not only have been underserved by the quantity of hospitals, but are also more at risk of being seriously ill during epidemics due to the lower quality of healthcare that they can avail themselves of currently.

The goal here is to propose to Republicans that the way to get the economy revved up is to do infrastructure spending, and that the construction of hospitals across America will be good for all businesses.

The goal here is to indicate to both Democratic and Republican Senators and Representatives that they would be able to provide to their local citizens thousands of excellent construction jobs and healthcare positions, while also delivering 10 new hospitals per Representative and a variable number of hospitals per Senator. (I can already hear the screaming from some libertarians about pork-barrel wasteful government spending, but perhaps others will be more far-sighted.)

I believe that this is an investment not only in the American economy but also an investment in our health and longevity.
—————–
Here are some very recent comments from prominent politicians on these critical issues.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday, April 24th, 2020:

“Plan on a reopening and not just reopening what was. We went through this horrific experience. It should be a period of growth. It should be a period of reflection. If we’re smart, and we use it that way, there are lessons to learn here. If we’re smart, and we have the courage to look in the mirror. We went through 9/11. We were the smarter for it. We went through World War II. We were the better for it. We went through superstorm Sandy. We learned. We grew. We were the better for it. We should do the same thing here. People are totally changing their lifestyle. What did we learn? How do we have a better health care system that can actually handle public health emergencies? How do we have a better transportation system? How do we have a smarter telemedicine system? How do we use technology and education better? Why do some children have to go to a parking lot to get Wi-Fi to do their homework? How do we … learn from this, and how do we grow?”

On Friday, April 24th, 2020, Larry Summers, former Treasury Secretary, appeared on the Wall Street Week program on Bloomberg TV, and he had this to say about how the American federal government is spending money:

“The really important thing that we need to spend macro money on is the micro health issues. This thing is costing us 80 billion dollars a week – more than 10 billion dollars a day. Anything that we do that accelerates the pace at which the economy can reopen, that creates some more normal environment more quickly, will pay for itself many times over. But we’re not throwing money at every possible approach to testing. We’re not simultaneously building the manufacturing capacity for tests or vaccines that might work, but we don’t know yet. What we need to do is spend money that we know some of it will end up being wastefully spent, so that we’re ready to go with anything that works: a vaccine; a treatment; a test for evaluating. And we’re just not spending money in that kind of way. We’re throwing infinite amounts of money at leveraged firms that are overlevered and are having a tough time right now, but we are underinvesting on a very large scale in the health investments. The truth is the highest payoff health investments in moving the economy forward aren’t in stimulating the economy – they’re in bringing forth the necessary health infrastructure in terms of tests, contact tracing, treatments, and ultimately vaccines. And that’s where we should be heavily investing and concentrating, and we’re not just we’re not doing it. It’s business as usual. It’s the fact that we underspent on pandemic preparation. That is why we’re in this catastrophic mess, and we still haven’t gotten past the error of underinvesting in health relative to other things. Think about it this way. If we move this forward by one day, the extra tax revenue that will feed into the government budget will be more than $3 billion dollars. At that price, how could we not be investing in every possible experiment and parallel processing everything, knowing that even if we have some redundancy, even if we have some waste, it will be small compared to the benefits.”

—————-

If there are some Transhumanists who see merit in the approach that I have outlined, I would like to discuss how this USTP platform plank can actually be implemented. We should engage the dominant political parties to get them to do what we know we need.

I believe that this is an investment not only in the American economy, but also an investment in our health and superlongevity.

Weblinks

U.S. Transhumanist Party Website: https://transhumanist-party.org/

American Hospital Association. Fast Facts on U.S. Hospitals, 2020: https://www.aha.org/statistics/fast-facts-us-hospitals 

John Elflein. Number of all hospitals in the U.S. from 1975 to 2017. https://www.statista.com/statistics/185843/number-of-all-hospitals-in-the-us-since-2001/

Erin Duffin. Resident population of the United States from 1980 to 2019. https://www.statista.com/statistics/183457/united-states–resident-population/

Notes

1. Number of hospitals in 1980: 6965.
Number of hospitals in 2016: 5534.
6965 – 5534 = 1431 fewer hospitals. 1431/6965 = 0.205 = 20.5% decrease in hospitals in the US.
{Source: John Elflein 2019 on statista.com}.

2. US population in 1980: 226,500,000.
US population in 2019: 328,200,000. 328,200,000 – 226,500,000 = 101,700,000 more Americans. 101,700,000 / 226,500,000 = .449 = 45% increase in the US population.
{Source: Erin Duffin 2020 on statista.com}.

3. Per capita hospital ratios.
1980: 226,500,000 people / 6965 hospitals = 32,500 p/h 2020: 328,200,000 people / 5534 hospitals = 59,300 p/h.
Find number of hospitals needed in 2020 to have same p/h ratio as 1980. 328,200,000 p / 32,500 p/h = 10,000 hospitals. 10,000 required – 5500 existing = 4500 new hospitals required.

Transhumanism and the Promise of Being More Human – Article by Arin Vahanian

Transhumanism and the Promise of Being More Human – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


Human beings have had an interesting relationship with technology. On the one hand, nearly everyone rightfully applauds and appreciates technology’s ability to make life more convenient, help us save time, and generally improve the quality of life and standard of living on Earth, among many other benefits. On the other hand, there are some people out there who believe that technology somehow threatens to rob us of our humanity.

However, I shall not attempt to argue with those who feel that technology is inherently detrimental to the human condition. Indeed, no matter how many benefits technology brings us, and no matter how much it improves our lives, there are no doubt people out there who will lament the time when technology was less ubiquitous.

While I fully recognize that runaway technology left in the wrong hands poses a danger to humanity, debating the pros and cons of an increasing technological future is not the focus of this article, though it is a very worthy (and necessary) discussion in its own right.

Rather, today I shall present an entirely different argument: that technology, and, in a narrower sense, Transhumanism, can accentuate the aspects and characteristics that make us human, and indeed, allow us to better enjoy the experience of being human.

At first glance, this may appear to be a controversial argument. After all, as some critics ask, aren’t developments like robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence at odds with being human? And, according to some detractors, isn’t Transhumanism a movement that will lead to people becoming less human and more machine-like?

Of course, both statements above are absurd, and complete red herrings. If we accept the fact that Transhumanism is a movement and philosophy focused on improving the human condition, then we must also accept the premise that Transhumanism strives to use technology to improve the human condition.

What makes we humans special is not just our ability to communicate deeply using language, but also, traits such as empathy, reason, and logic, as well as the ability to love. I would argue that we will be able to leverage future improvements in technology to improve all these areas.

While one could come up with a near-endless list of ways technology could help improve the human condition, I will offer just a few here, to spur discussion.

One way that comes to mind immediately is using technology to help the countless millions of people who are suffering from physical disabilities, and as a result, are unable to live a productive, normal life. The robotic limbs and exoskeletons you have heard and read about would go a long way toward allowing people to be mobile again, and would emancipate people from being bound to a bed or a wheelchair.  Imagine the happiness on the face of a child who is able to walk for the first time thanks to a robotic limb. One of the most heart-wrenching things for us to see is children who are suffering from physical disabilities. In reality, being disabled is an undignified way to go through life, no matter what one’s age. But not only would such technologies drastically improve the quality of life for people suffering from physical disabilities, they would also benefit humanity on an economic level, allowing people to be more productive members of society. It is for this reason that Transhumanists support unequivocally technologies that help people make full use of their physical, mental, and emotional faculties.

But if that example was too obvious, let’s take conditions such as autism and social anxiety disorder, for instance. While current treatments include behavioral therapy and medication, neither one of those has been very effective, and at best, neither is a cure. On the other hand, a technological solution would likely be much more efficacious. One such example of a potential solution that does not currently exist, but might be developed in the future, is the Computer-Assisted Social Interaction Enhancer, or CASIE, as introduced in the video game Deus Ex: Human Revolution. A real-life use case for such an enhancement could be to allow people who suffer from autism to have improved social interactions, not to mention vastly improved communication skills. The implications of having good social and communication skills are enormous, not just in one’s career, but in one’s social life in particular. Part of what makes us human is the ability to connect with and relate to others. When we are robbed of this most human quality, this threatens to impact our quality of life quite negatively. What is most interesting is that it was a Transhumanist video game that proposed a potential technological solution to such social disorders.

And how about curing diseases through gene therapy? While some people are frightened of the prospect of gene modification, I imagine very few people would reject a cure for dementia, cystic fibrosis, and leukemia, especially if they and/or their loved ones were suffering from any one of these horrible conditions. To go further, I would venture to say that nearly no one in their right mind would argue that we should not cure devastating conditions such as dementia, cystic fibrosis, and leukemia, never mind the biggest killers, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Transhumanists have been campaigning for improving the human condition and curing disease through gene therapy and similar technologies. I would argue that there are few endeavors in life that are more humane than working on curing disease.

However, despite the fact that Transhumanist causes such as curing disease and improving the human condition are among the most noble causes we as humans can work on, detractors may respond with the objection that the requisite technologies do not currently exist, and that even if they did, they would be used for harm rather than good.

My response to this is quite simple: electricity did not exist, until it did. Vaccines did not exist, until they did. Many things we take for granted now did not exist until someone or some people worked together to create them. There is no reason why we cannot leverage science and technology to provide a cure for many of the conditions that afflict us today. At the very least, we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to try.

And although a technology such as CASIE does not yet exist, imagine the implications if such technologies did exist. While these technologies could no doubt be used for nefarious means, we cannot simply deny billions of people the possibility of having improved relationships, better health, and a better quality of life, just because the possibility exists of a few unscrupulous people using technology to hurt others.

Equally important, technologies such as life extension, gene therapy and anti-aging medicines will allow people to spend more time with loved ones by granting them healthier, longer lives. I would imagine that living more years of a healthy life is an outcome nearly everyone would want.

As computer scientist Dr. Kai Fu Lee says in his monumental book AI Superpowers, “we must forge a new synergy between artificial intelligence and the human heart, and look for ways to use the forthcoming material abundance generated by artificial intelligence to foster love and compassion in our societies.” One could replace the term “artificial intelligence” with “technology”, and it would be just as true.

Technology can and must be used as a force for good. Similarly, Transhumanism, which promises to improve the human condition, can help make us be even more human by accentuating our human qualities, thus elevating us to be even greater than we are right now.

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

Brent Nally Interviews U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II at Sierra Sciences

Brent Nally Interviews U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II at Sierra Sciences

Gennady Stolyarov II
Brent Nally


On October 12, 2019, U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II spoke with Brent Nally at the venerable Sierra Sciences headquarters in Reno, Nevada. They discussed developments in the U.S. Transhumanist Party, fitness, health, and longevity – among other subjects.

Watch the interview here.

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

Show Notes by Brent Nally

3:15 Brent Nally’s RAADfest 2019 YouTube playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGjySL94COVSO3hcnpZq-jCcgnUQIaALQ

4:24 Go to RAADfest primarily to network: https://www.raadfest.com/

6:28 People Unlimited website: https://peopleunlimitedinc.com/

6:30 The Coalition for Radical Life Extension website: https://www.rlecoalition.com/

7:20 We need to increase your healthspan to increase your lifespan.

9:01 Watch Bill Andrews and Gennady discussing transhumanism and radical life extension: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7GJrVBp8FQ

13:35 Gennady just ran the Lakeside Marathon at Lake Tahoe the day before, October 11, 2019.

19:30 Do whatever type of exercise that you enjoy. Don’t push yourself to the point of exhaustion where you’re throwing up or getting injured or not having fun because that’s bad for your telomeres.

24:10 Audit your own thoughts daily as a meditation to recognize your limiting beliefs.

26:15 How Gennady became Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party

29:35 How the 9 USTP presidential candidates competed using a “ranked preference” approach

32:07 43 articles are currently in the 3rd version of the Transhumanist Bill of Rights: https://transhumanist-party.org/tbr-3/

34:27 https://transhumanist-party.org/

35:40 We should be more concerned with ideas rather than people. We’re in an “ideas” economy.

36:28 Politicians are more followers than leaders.

40:27 3 core ideals of USTP: https://transhumanist-party.org/values/

41:40 Gennady shares more details about how his role as chairman may evolve.

44:28 Positives and negatives of centralization and decentralization

49:15 Sophia the AI robot: https://www.hansonrobotics.com/sophia/

51:30 Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. Try to educate others about transhumanism.

55:30 Ray Kurzweil points out that technology growth and stock market growth are separate. Here’s Brent talking to Ray in February 2011: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TuVn…

57:37 Join the USTP: https://transhumanist-party.org/membership/

58:40 USTP Twitter: https://twitter.com/USTranshumanist; USTP LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/19118856/; Gennady’s online magazine – The Rational Argumentator: http://www.rationalargumentator.com/index/

1:01:14 Gennady, Bill Andrews, and Brent ran about 8.4 miles the next morning above Carson City, NV on the Upper Clear Creek Trail.

1:02:15 Don’t forget to subscribe, like, comment on this video, and share on your social media accounts!

Wealth, Power, and the Prospect of Reversing Aging – Article by Arin Vahanian

Wealth, Power, and the Prospect of Reversing Aging – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


I often ask myself, “Why do wealthy and/or influential people seem to support spending billions of dollars on weapons and exploring outer space, when, with their massive wealth and resources, they could help reduce human suffering and dramatically improve the quality of life for billions of people?”

And this question takes me back to a discussion I had last year with gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, during which he recounted to me a meeting he had with an ultra high-net-worth (UHNW) individual. The purpose of the meeting was to raise money for aging and life-extension research, and the UHNW individual refused to donate to SENS Research Foundation, or even to get involved, stating something to the effect of, “It won’t happen in my lifetime.”

That response perplexed me. Here we had a very successful and intelligent person, who, rather than help ensure his own children (as well as others’ children) could live a healthier and longer life, refused to do anything, for the simple reason that he did not believe we could make much progress on reversing aging in his lifetime.

While this is indeed a selfish way to look at things, it is by no means uncommon. In fact, I have been racking my brain recently, trying to figure out why the people who are best-equipped to do something about life extension and aging, do not do so (or do not do enough).

To be fair, there are a few wealthy and influential people who support research into aging and life extension, the most notable being entrepreneur Jim Mellon. However, they seem to be the exception rather than the norm.

Indeed, why do people like Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk, who possess incredible resources and influence, choose to spend money and time on attempting to colonize hostile, uninhabitable planets hundreds of millions of kilometers away, especially considering that they and their loved ones (if they are lucky to live long enough) will die of aging-related causes such as heart disease, dementia, and cancer?

While I cannot speak for the aforementioned people, I believe there are several reasons why people in a position of power or wealth refuse to do much about supporting research on aging.

The first reason is that aging and death have been considered inevitable. Indeed, even though we have been able to put a human being on the Moon, we have been unable to prevent a single human being from aging. Enormously wealthy and successful people tend to be quite pragmatic, and so I imagine that they would not want to fund an endeavor or be a part of something they believed had no chance of success. However, we have evidence that we are making progress on this front, or at the very least, that reversing aging and implementing life-extension technologies are worthy endeavors.

In fact, in 2005, MIT Technology Review organized a panel of world-renowned experts (including molecular biologists) and offered a $20,000 prize to anyone who could disprove the SENS research program and demonstrate that reversing aging is not worthy of consideration. However, none of the contestants were able to do so. On the other hand, there is no evidence that human life is sustainable on any other planets in our solar system (while human life is perfectly sustainable on Earth), and by most professional estimates, it would take incredible technological advancements and financial resources to even enable people to temporarily stay on a planet such as Mars. We should also consider the fact that there have been no studies performed on the massive changes that would occur to the human body as a result of living on another planet.

Thus, it actually appears more realistic to work on reversing aging than it would be to work on colonizing other planets. But even if we are not able to completely reverse aging, what if we were able to slow aging? Wouldn’t it be desirable to have an additional five to 10 years of healthy life? Any progress we could make on life extension would be worth it, given that it would directly add healthy years to a person’s life. One thing is for certain – doing nothing ensures that very little will change, and that humans will more than likely continue living this average lifespan of 79 or so years (with very modest improvements over time), with much of it in the later years being in sickness and poor health.

Another reason for the refusal to fund aging and life extension research may be a rather pessimistic one. It is entirely possible that billionaires and governments are hedging their bets in the event that climate change or some other scenario causes wide-scale suffering (the likes of which have never been seen before) and a potential destruction of the planet, along with the rapid extinction of the human species. If that were the case, and Earth was about to be destroyed, it would make sense to pour resources into colonizing other planets. However, I think the likelihood of something like this occurring, at least in the near future, is extremely slim. Further, we have much evidence to support the fact that the planet could sustain a larger population and that technological improvements, as well as renewable energy, and seasteading, can prevent such an apocalyptic scenario from occurring. In fact, despite the challenges we are facing in terms of sustainability, we are making good progress, and it seems unreasonable to me to give all of this up, throw in the towel, and chase a pipe dream of living on another planet (when the one we have now is perfectly suited to human life). Also, given that we have the technology to save our planet from being engulfed in chaos and destruction, but do not currently have the technology to live on other planets, wouldn’t it make sense to save Earth first, rather than attempting to embark upon costly journeys to other planets, especially journeys that have little guarantee of success?

Yet another reason may be that many people, including those in a position of power, have bought into the idea of an afterlife. However, if we are completely honest with ourselves, there is no evidence that an afterlife exists, whereas there is evidence that we are making progress with reversing aging, even if that progress is arriving at a pace that is slower than we would have liked. With that being said, I would never want to deny anyone the right to believe in whatever they want. The question is, however, whether it is beneficial to adopt a zero-sum attitude to this matter. The fact is, believing in an afterlife and contributing to aging and life-extension research are not mutually exclusive. One can have any religious beliefs one likes, and subscribe to the idea that there is an afterlife, while also contributing to the beauty of existence here on Earth.

Finally, working on a cause such as reversing aging appears to not be as exciting as the prospect of exploring Mars, which is why people would rather update their LinkedIn (or Tinder) profile with “Entrepreneur” or “Swashbuckling Adventurer” or “Arms Dealer”, even, rather than “Gerontologist”.  In all seriousness, though, I have always found the idea of exploring faraway lands, as well as other planets, to be exciting. But if human beings are excited about exploring the unknown, shouldn’t we also be interested in exploring a process as complex as aging, especially given that there is much we still do not know about it? Also, the implications of making advancements in this field are huge. This is because the un-sexy work that gerontologists are doing will lead to us living longer, healthier lives, and so this very important work should not be ignored. In fact, it is a massive waste of resources to try to colonize uninhabitable planets at the expense of ensuring good health and longevity, when all of humanity battles with disease and death. It would even be more noble to focus our efforts on eliminating poverty (something that the Chinese government, for instance, has dedicated its efforts to).

I do not wish to dissuade anyone from exploring outer space, but neither should we avoid doing what needs to be done on our planet. I only wish to ask whether spending billions on space exploration is the best use of resources at our disposal, considering that there is still much work to be done here on Earth.

As mentioned previously, it should not be a zero-sum game. In an ideal world, we could dedicate resources to both aging research and space exploration. However, when the budget for NASA is $21.5 billion and the budget for aging research at the National Institute on Aging is $40 million, one has to start asking questions. Actually, one could argue neither budget is large enough, especially given that the U.S. Department of Defense budget is $686 billion.

Why do we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on missiles and bombs to combat a highly-exaggerated threat, when there is the absolute certainty that billions of people will suffer and then die, many of them prematurely, due to aging-related diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and dementia?

What makes exploring outer space so much more important than ensuring that billions do not die prematurely from aging-related diseases? Will picking up and holding red dust on a hostile, uninhabitable planet be more fulfilling than holding one’s child or loved one in one’s arms?

What does it say about our society when we are content to allow friends and family members to perish in undignified ways, while we dream about stockpiling as many weapons as possible, reliving fictional fantasies inspired by comic books and movies, and ignoring challenges here on Earth?

These are questions we must ask ourselves, and, more importantly, must demand those in power to ask themselves. At the end of the day, if we as a society are comfortable with the tradeoffs and decide en masse that dealing weapons and exploring outer space are more important than working on curing disease, reversing aging, and ensuring that everyone on Earth lives a dignified life, then we can rest assured knowing that we gave this most important of topics much consideration.

However, given the facts, I do not think we have reached that point yet. We have, however, reached a point where there is promise that we are making progress in fighting aging, and it is irresponsible and reckless to ignore these gains while entertaining fantasies of living on other planets. It makes little sense to try to live in a dignified manner on a dangerous, inhospitable, isolated planet that is not suitable for human life, when we are having difficulty living in a dignified manner here on Planet Earth (a planet that is perfectly suited to human life). The solution is not to dream about moving to Mars while leaving the elderly and unhealthy here to die. The solution is also not to increase defense funding, when we already have more weapons than we know what to do with. The solution is to help our brothers and sisters here on Earth live longer, healthier, more fulfilling lives. And thus, this is a call to action for those of you who are in a position of power or wealth and who can dedicate resources to ensuring that your loved ones, and everyone else’s loved ones, can live better.

One thing I would like to ask UHNW individuals and politicians is, what will you do with the great wealth, status, and power you have accumulated? Will you play golf and remark that “it won’t happen in my lifetime”? Or will you actually do something to ensure that your children won’t be doomed to a short life, during which they will suffer from debilitating disease and eventually die?

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