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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.

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The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Gene Therapy, Claim Jumping and Leadership in Biotech -- Bio, Soc

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So, yes, China is the only country to have given regulatory approval to any kind of gene therapy, and now it has approved a treatment in which a virus attacks tumor cells but not healthy cells in cancer patients. The technique, incidentally, is one which was originally developed by an American company, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, and then abandoned.

Oddly enough, the Chinese company, Sunway, has licenced world rights for their treatment. Sunway rederived an analogue to the original version, Onyx-015, by studying a paper published by Onyx's scientists.

There are two interesting trends here. One is the ongoing concern found in many corners of America that our lead in the biotech industry may be short lived if major research on subjects such as cloning and stem cells is restriced to other countries with friendlier regulatory environments. Some have suggested South Korea as one such option.

The other is the ongoing concern many people have about Chinese business' tendency to ignore intellectual property rights and to use technology without paying royalties or otherwise having the legal right to do so.

Curiously, while the technology may prove to be extremely potent, it's fascinating to consider that the most powerful results from this (re-)discovery may come from the public reaction to it (if any). A backlash against the West's manufacturing supply chain (partly located) in China would knock the wheels off the global economy. But that doesn't mean that a sufficiently "egregious" incident might not get people's attention and help encourage a sudden deterioration in relations.

And, of course, it's worth noting that China is yet another country that has the capacity to engage in human augmentation on a large scale should biotech or accelerated learning augmentations ever become widespread.


Future Imperative

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