Tag Archive | Biotechnology

How to Shapeshift

This is an interesting video from rusty about the physics of shape-shifting.

Find out how real science can enable us to alter our own genetic structure just as Mystique and Beast Boy do in the latest episode of Science Friction.

The Transhumanist Reader

English: Transhumanism H+ symbol Русский: Симв...

Transhumanism H+ symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a follow-up to my last post here about transhumanism, is an interesting podcast from Singularity blog about the new book The Transhumanist Reader from Natasha Vita-More.

What is transhumanism ?

According to wikipedia :

Transhumanism (abbreviated as H+ or h+) is an international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.

Who is Natasha Vita-More ?

According to wikipedia:

Natasha Vita-More (born Nancie Clark in Westchester County, New York) is a university lecturer on transhumanism and the Creative Director of H+ Lab.

In 1982, Vita-More authored a Transhuman Statement; produced and hosted cable TV show TransCentury Update on human futures reaching over 100,000 viewers in Los Angeles and Telluride 1985–1992; founded Transhumanist Arts and Culture 1993. She was the Chair of “Vital Progress Summit” 2004, establishing a precedent for proaction of human enhancement. She was the president of the Extropy Institute 2002-2006. She currently advises non-profit organizations including Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, Adaptive A.I., and LifeBoat Foundation, and Alcor Life Extension Foundation, and has been a consultant to IBM on the future of human performance.

The Transhumanist Reader

This is a book about transhumanism and the human nature.

The book description (according to amazon) is:

The first authoritative and comprehensive survey of the origins and current state of transhumanist thinking.
The rapid pace of emerging technologies is playing an increasingly important role in overcoming fundamental human limitations. Featuring core writings by seminal thinkers in the speculative possibilities of the posthuman condition, essays address key philosophical arguments for and against human enhancement, explore the inevitability of life extension, and consider possible solutions to the growing issues of social and ethical implications and concerns. Edited by the internationally acclaimed founders of the philosophy and social movement of transhumanism, The Transhumanist Reader is an indispensable guide to our current state of knowledge of the quest to expand the frontiers of human nature.
Bellow is a the podcast I was talking about.

More information about this book and Natasha Vita-More are found here.

Printing a human kidney

Can we use the 3D printing technology to “print” a human kidney ?

In this TED talk from 2011 we get an insight into a project designed to just that.

Surgeon Anthony Atala demonstrates an early-stage experiment that could someday solve the organ-donor problem: a 3D printer that uses living cells to output a transplantable kidney. Using similar technology, Dr. Atala’s young patient Luke Massella received an engineered bladder 10 years ago; we meet him onstage.

Is Futurama the Best Argument Against Transhumanism?

This is an interesting video about the future of our world and the vision of transhumanism.

But, first, what is transhumanism (according to wikipedia) ?

Transhumanism, abbreviated as H+ or h+, is an international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.

Transhumanist thinkers study the potential benefits and dangers of emerging technologies that could overcome fundamental human limitations, as well as study the ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies. They predict that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label “posthuman“.

More information about this video :

Transhumanism is a scientific philosophy that says technology will solve all our human biological constraints and that immortality is right around the corner (well not RIGHT around the corner, but WAYYY closer). They envision a world of endlessly euphoric robo-humans that represent the next step in evolution. And while this sounds super awesome, we had to ask, will this really make us happy?!

If you watch Futurama, than you know that the answer is probably NO. While not an exact illustration of transhumanism, Futurama does show a future of vast technological ability, where today’s everyday problems are rendered moot, and yet the characters on the show still seem to find themselves in some very non-euphoric emotional states. Does this disprove what transhumanists expect for our future?

The Artificial Leaf

An interesting video from Focus Forward Vimeo competition about a technical challenge until now, can we build an artificial leaf ?

Dan Nocera has a simple formula to save the planet: sunlight + water = energy for the world.

Biohacking — you can do it, too

Can we develop DIY biotechnology ?

A very interesting talk from TED about biotechnology and the future of it.

We have personal computing, why not personal biotech? That’s the question biologist Ellen Jorgensen and her colleagues asked themselves before opening Genspace, a nonprofit DIYbio lab in Brooklyn devoted to citizen science, where amateurs can go and tinker with biotechnology. Far from being a sinister Frankenstein’s lab (as some imagined it), Genspace offers a long list of fun, creative and practical uses for DIYbio.

Is Biomedical Research Really Close to Curing Anything?

A colony of embryonic stem cells, from the H9 ...

A colony of embryonic stem cells, from the H9 cell line (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are we really close to curing anything?

This is the question that “The Floating University” is trying to answer in this long (43 min) video.

A century ago, people would suffer and die from what we now consider routine bacterial infections. With the discovery of penicillin, a miracle occurred where it became possible to cure people who previously had been left for dead. We’re now at the edge of a similar revolution due to remarkable innovations in the field of regenerative biology. In this lecture, Dr. Douglas Melton introduces the astounding advances being made today to unlock the powerful potential hidden within our own cells. Cloning, regeneration, “man-made” stem cells, an end to aging as we know it; these may all sound like science fiction, but they’re closer than you think.

Henry Markram builds a brain in a supercomputer

Can we build a realistic computer model of the human brain ?

This is the question that Henry Markram is trying to answer.

In the microscopic, yet-uncharted circuitry of the cortex, Henry Markram is perhaps the most ambitious — and our most promising — frontiersman. Backed by the extraordinary power of the IBM Blue Gene supercomputing architecture, which can perform hundreds of trillions of calculations per second, he’s using complex models to precisely simulate the neocortical column (and its tens of millions of neural connections) in 3D.

Though the aim of Blue Brain research is mainly biomedical, it has been edging up on some deep, contentious philosophical questions about the mind — “Can a robot think?” and “Can consciousness be reduced to mechanical components?” — the consequence of which Markram is well aware: Asked by Seed Magazine what a simulation of a full brain might do, he answered, “Everything. I mean everything” — with a grin.

Now, with a successful proof-of-concept for simulation in hand (the project’s first phase was completed in 2007), Markram is looking toward a future where brains might be modeled even down to the molecular and genetic level. Computing power marching rightward and up along the graph of Moore’s Law, Markram is sure to be at the forefront as answers to the mysteries of cognition emerge.