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Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. (Albert Camus)
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    The human species is rapidly and indisputably moving towards the technological singularity. The cadence of the flow of information and innovation in...

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    The great enhancement debate
    What will happen when for the first time in ages different human species will inhabit the earth at the same time? The day may be upon us when people...
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    Enhancement- here it comes
    Project: The great enhancement debate
    Following the last week announcement that Scientists have Put Exercise In A Pill
    This is a round up of the latest advances and developments in the human enhancement sector, some are already here, some are in the early stages of development, what all these point to however, is the fact that Human V 2.0 is well on the way.


    1. Enhancing Your Brain

    Timeline: Within 3 Years

    Modafinil is but one of a dozen or so “neural enhancers” currently available in pharmacies that scientists say could enhance athletic performance. Popping FDA-approved Parkinson’s meds and antidepressants might not seem like cheating, but studies suggest that a positive mental attitude improves mental focus, contributing to superior performance. Various antidepressants boost dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin levels. For a healthy athlete, that extra serotonin may foster a more positive mood, while both dopamine and norepinephrine seem to enhance motor control and muscle reaction time—an edge in any sport.



    For another read on the same topic
    See : How Many Silicon Valley Startup Executives Are Hopped Up On Provigil?

    Eugeroic: It’s a comparatively recent invention, of the 1990s, supposedly from classical Greek words meaning “good arousal” (eu- is from Greek eus, good, and the middle bit may have been taken very irregularly from the verb egeirein, to arouse or awaken).

    Eugeroics are drugs that reduce the need for sleep. They’re claimed to deliver an alert and wakeful state that feels natural without the side effects of earlier types of stimulant. The best known is modafinil, though the earlier drug adrafinil and the newer armodafinil also belong in the same group. (source: World Wide Words)

    2. Muscling Up

    Timeline: 3–5 Years

    BACKGROUND: In 1997, geneticists Alexandra McPherron of the National Institutes of Health and Sie-Jin Lee of Johns Hopkins University discovered that “turning off” the protein myostatin can double the size of muscles in mice. Myostatin keeps muscle stem cells inactive during normal use. Turn off the protein’s signaling ability, and those cells turn their host into the Hulk. Last year, researchers at the Human Genome Research Center found the same mutation occurring naturally in a few Popeye-esque whippet dogs—typically a skin-and-bones breed—called bully whippets. In races, bully whippets run almost twice as fast as genetically normal whippets.





    3. Gene Doping
    Photo by Steve Cross

    Timeline: 5 Years

    BACKGROUND: Gene doping is the sneaky side of gene therapy, in which scientists use modified viruses to insert healthy genes into flawed parts of the genetic code. The cells follow the new instructions, and presto—stronger body. Recent studies looking into boosting muscle mass to treat muscular dystrophy have caught athletes’ attention.

    4. Bulking Up With Stem Cells

    Timeline: 10 Years

    BACKGROUND: The potential uses of stem-cell therapy seem endless: from treating cancer and neurological diseases, to increasing muscle mass and bone density in the weak, to cultivating new organs in petri dishes. It’s those last two items that have piqued the interest of athletes looking to beef up or repair game-worn bodies. Although these applications might be considered outright cheating, they fall onto what Tom Murray, the president of the bioethical institute the Hastings Center, calls “the fault line between enhancement and highly sophisticated injury prevention.” If a basketball player goes in for a stem-cell treatment for the ailing bones in his feet, is it cheating or just good medicine? No governing body has yet stated a position on stem-cell therapies, but the issue will need to be addressed soon.

    Grow New Body Parts in Your Own Abdomen





    5. Getting Into the Zone

    Timeline: 15 years

    BACKGROUND: In the past 30 years, hundreds of scientists have investigated the “in-the-zone” feeling that athletes say gives them the sense that they can accomplish anything. When Boston Celtic Larry Bird talked about the game seeming to actually slow down during crunch time, helping him to read defenses more clearly and feel more fleet-footed, he was probably experiencing a natural dopamine high. Dopamine increases muscle-reaction speed and alters the perception of time. But these flow states, as they’re known among psychologists, are probably triggered by a surge of several mindscrambling, euphoria-inducing, reflex-quickening neurochemicals, such as norepinephrine and serotonin. Although studies have yet to quantify how much flow states actually raise an athlete’s performance, anecdotal evidence has convinced Michael Sachs, a sport psychologist at Temple University. “Athletic abilities are so elevated by the experience,” he says, “that just about any championship-level, gold-medal peak performance has a flow state at its core.” Elite athletes would do anything for a pill or injection that stimulates this feeling.

    (1-5 Source: Juicing 3.0 at Pop-Sci)




    6. Bionic implants

    Relatively unknown to most people, however, are a host of new, exotic bionic applications now on the horizon. Some of these involve the use of nanotechnology. "Nano" means a billionth of any unit of measurement; therefore "nanotechnology" means technology involving extremely small components. Nanotechnology is being used to create minute implants that interact at the cellular and molecular level with living tissues. This is bionics "writ small," but the hoped for gains may be spectacular.

    One instance of this kind of research is currently being pursued at the ARC Centre for Excellence for Electromaterials Science in Australia. At ARC, filaments of polymers— very large molecules like starches, proteins, and nylon that are formed by linking together many small molecules—that conduct electricity are being inserted into living tissues. There the polymers interact with cells, transmitting electrical, mechanical, and chemical "messages" to them and feeding back information to the microprocessors at the other end. These polymers are being loaded with growth-inducing chemicals that stimulate the production of nerve cells in the laboratory. As the ability to grow nerve cells is crucial to restoring mobility to people who have been paralyzed by spinal cord injuries, the use of such technology present exciting possibilities in the area rehabilitation of paraplegics and quadriplegics.
    (source : Cloning Mag)

    Bionic implants raise ethical questions




    More

    Study shows increased education on nanotech, human enhancement increases public concerns. Educating the public about nanotechnology and other complex but emerging technologies causes people to become more "worried and cautious" about the new technologies' prospective benefits, according to a recent study by researchers at North Carolina State University. (source: physorg)


    DARPA today has a long-term, $3 billion program to help make such a “Metabolically Dominant Soldier.” In other words, the military is studying how to use technology and biology to meld man and machine and transcend the limits of the human body. Described the project director, “My measure of success is that the International Olympic Committee bans everything we do" The $3 billion program is definitely trying to achieve transhuman performance goals.
    (source : Next Big Future)

    A notable form of chemical enhancement is pre- and perinatal enhancement. By giving choline supplementation to pregnant rats the performance of their pups was enhanced, apparently by changes in neural development (Meck, Smith & Williams 1987, Mellott et al. 2004). Given the ready availability of choline such prenatal enhancement may already (inadvertently) take place. Deliberate changes of maternal diet may hence be seen as part of the cognitive enhancement spectrum. (Source : Enhancement project)



    Next-Generation Retinal Implant
    Scientists plan to test an implanted chip with four times the resolution of the previous version in people blinded by retinal degeneration. (Source: MIT tech review)



    The above list can go on and on, if I was to herd all the news in this particular area, this post would have been such that a brain implant would have become necessary to digest it all.
    However to my mind what the above imparts is the knowledge that science and technology are advancing at such a pace that most of us cannot possibly make sense of it all. It is my view that we need advance our debate in a more urgent and profound manner if we are to have the ethical/philosophical stance needed to interact with the coming available enhancement/upgrades to our bodies and minds.


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    Wildcat     Tue, Aug 26, 2008  Permanent link
    Science daily has a fascinating take on the issue of : "Healthy People And Enhancement Drugs"
    Healthy people are more willing to take drugs to enhance traits that are not fundamental to their identity.
    According to a new study, people's willingness to take a pill or drug depends on whether the trait the drug promises to enhance is one they consider fundamental.
    "We suggest that people's willingness to take psychological enhancements will largely depend on beliefs about whether those enhancements will alter characteristics considered fundamental to self-identity," the authors write.
    "Together, this research converges to highlight the importance of identity expression and preservation in governing the choices and lives of consumers,"

    Source: University of Chicago Press Journals (2008, August 25). Healthy People And Enhancement Drugs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 26, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080822131309.htm# 
     
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