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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.

Name:

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.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Poll (Humor): How to Spend $5 Million to Become Superhuman -- AL, CPS, Dark, Hum, Plan, Psych, Self, Soc, $$$

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Okay, imagine that you have an extra $5 million dollars. You still have plenty of money besides that to live on, help out family and friends, do good works on the side, invest, etc.

Now imagine that you were going to spend that $5 million over the course of two to three years in order to try to become superhuman. My question would be -- What kind of superbeing would you try to become, and how would you spend the money?

Incidentally, this isn't entirely hypothetical. I know someone with these kinds of interests who will probably be coming into quite a bit of money over the next few years.

So... What's your plan?

Here are some obvious choices you can comment on if you find them amusing (or intriguing), or ignore or replace them if you don't. And yes, I threw in a few URLs to explain some choices, but I didn't spend hours looking for perfect definitions online. And I’m really only personally familiar with the accelerated learning, creativity and mind machine fields, and even in those, I hardly know everything. Be warned. =)

I'll be posting these a section at a time, to avoid blog overload. Be warned, some choices are slightly less serious than others.

My plans for teamwork on this project are…
…Hah! What teamwork? I intend to become as a living god, crushing all beneath my will once I achieve Absolute Power! Why should I share my secrets with useless swine who would only seek to betray my glory? (Hah. Fools.)

…I will bring a number of close friends and/or meta enthusiasts on board, to work in a cooperative way to increase all of our abilities together.

…We are a dark Cabal, moving in the shadows, bending the world to our whims. But fear not, our grip is so absolute that even as you read this truth, you will be subliminally manipulated to disregard it. Have a pleasant, shallow day. That’s an order.

…I’ll hire people to help me out, and work with people who can offer me useful knowledge, skills or resources, but I’m planning to make this an individual project.

…I plan to start my own school to help others achieve the same things I will, either now or in the near future. Xavier’s, Hogwarts – Look out!

…Help build a society that nurtures genius in all of its citizens.
http://www.winwenger.com/part75.htm
http://www.creativeclass.org/acrobat/paperback_intro.pdf

…My work is just the beginning of the creation of a new Master Race. Fear Our Coming!

…My work is just the beginning of a great project I hope to extend to the entire planet.

...I’m part of a great conspiracy of people trying to bring about a critical mass of superhumans on Earth. See Grant Morrison.

...I foresee a great conflict between the emerging trans/meta/para/superhumans when they at last begin to emerge, with the critical edge belonging to those who evolve first. Which is why I intend to get there before everyone else. You’ll know me when you see me, towering above lesser mortals and driving mine enemies before me.


Future Imperative

The Methusaleh Mouse Man May Live Forever... -- Bio, Long, SkiP, Soc

Here's a link to a short but interesting article about Aubrey de Grey, one of the leading voices promoting longevity research. In de Grey's case, he's interested in effective immortality. The piece is an interesting look at someone who is making the anti-aging fight a mainstream issue and at why his efforts are not always appreciated within the field.

Slate is still making this article openly accessible, but I don't know at what point they archive it and make it harder to reach.

Future Imperative

Friday, March 18, 2005

Making Black Holes in the Lab -- Tech

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And in a quick look at where modern technology may be going, scientists at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider here in the U.S. may have created a black hole in the lab while colliding streams of gold ions together. Thank the BBC for this article.


Future Imperative

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Gene Therapy -- Man Into Superman? -- Bio

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Here's an article from the Washington Post on gene therapy (you may have to register to open this one). In short, scientists and "bio-ethicists" are still debating whether or not it's right to enhance human athletic abilities with technology ostensibly designed to alleviate medical problems.

Personally, I think such debates dodge the larger question: Once we can safely enhance the natural muscular strength (or health, or cardio-vascular endurance, or memory, or basic intelligence) of every human being, should we do so? And if so, should we do it for everybody? (Or everyone who wants it?)

Here's another article from Betterhumans.Com addressing the same issue of athletic "gene-doping."


Future Imperative

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

More on Free Online Book about Frank Herbert's Ideas about Making Superhumans - AI, AL, Bio, Dark, MA, Myst, Noo, Psych, Rev, Self, SF, Soc, Super

I have one more thought regarding O'Reilly's book on the novels and ideas of Frank Herbert.

One of the reasons I find the early Dune series so interesting and relevant to this site is that Frank Herbert's work essentially features superhumanly capable individuals -- indeed, virtually every significant character who appears in his first few Dune books is superhumanly talented at something.

Seriously, look at the Fremen, Duncan Idaho, the Mentats (human computers), the Bene
Gesserit (women who have complete mastery over their minds and bodies), the Tleilaxu Face Dancers, Alia, the Sardaukar, the Spacer Guild and even the skills of the Atreides military cadres and the charisma of Duke Leto. Essentially, human society in these books is controlled by superhumans, and the fact that Paul Atreides and his son Leto are capable of so dominating these contending factions speaks to the fact that they are inarguably a higher order of superhuman than the others.

This subject is of interest to me because I believe one of the ways in which the field of human development could ultimately be abused is through the evolution of a handful of individuals with superhuman talents who have no appreciable rivals and hence no real restraints on their actions.

I'm not so much concerned with the classic four-color supervillain (indeed, I think if men and women with psychological issues can relieve them by dressing up in tights and engaging flamboyant public displays... then this behavior should be encouraged, especially with anyone who has an extraordinary capacity for mischief =) ) but with people who are either self-centered or even sincerely well-intentioned who have the ability to sweep aside any objectors and impose their own will on the world indiscriminately. This kind of influence can be exerted in many ways, be it through the exercise of political or economic power, cultural influence, or scientific or technological breakthroughs that alter an existing status quo.

I'm afraid that we've gotten a bit too used to dealing with prodigies who do not exert real, perceptable influence on human society, with world-altering minds such as da Vinci's and Tesla's being seen as very rare and influences such as Shakespeare either favoring the existing order, being co-opted into it or being sufficiently beneath notice to be ignored. I should point out, however, that most of our present "great leaders", be they in politics or business, science or technology, or performing, literary or artistic celebrities, range in ability from highly intelligent to mere genius level, and the top few hundred to few thousand of these people exert a tremendous amount of influence over our daily lives.

If the merely human can have such power, we should ask ourselves what kind of impact the superhuman could have. And we should not be deceived by the relatively minor impact of those superhuman or near-superhuman intellects whose abilities were more directly applicable to altering society. Most of da Vinci's most radical inventions, especially his weapons such as the exploding shell and the tank, remained hidden in his Notebooks and were not known to the general public until long after his death. And certain of Tesla's inventions were never developed due to lack of funds and other potentially destabilizing devices, such as his electron beam and
"earthquake device," were never actively utilized in the 19th and early 20th Centuries when they might have truly shaken the world.

And the skills of these and other highly gifted people such as Ramanujan and Sheresheveski may be only the tip of the iceberg of human potential. Indeed, with ever-advancing human development technologies and conceivable resources such as nanotechnology, even fictional characters such as Paul Atreides and his son Leto may be only the tip of that iceberg.

This discussion may seem like pointless philosophizing, but it all comes back to a very simple point. Virtually all the mental and other resources we discuss on this site and related groups have one thing in common; you have to exert yourself, if only to a very small degree, in order to use them. My fear is not that we'll soon encounter a genetic superman who rules the world by the "right" of being the next step in human evolution, but that we'll have a significantly more advanced individual or handful of minds who rule the world because they're the only ones who ultimately care enough to do so.

No matter how well-meaning a particular small group of people may be, there are always ideas and perspectives available to others by virtue of their unique experiences that will be valuable to the rest of the world. We need as many of those people as possible to be capable of contributing if we wish to have the stable, egalitarian, and ever-improving society that most people aspire to.

I am reminded that the paradox facing Paul Atreides in Dune was that he had no equals, no one to counterbalance his own influence as Muad'Dib and that he could see no way out of the legend he had created -- a legend driven by his own vast superiority to virtually everyone around him, despite the fact that he was surrounded by vast numbers of de facto superhumans. His prescience could not be disturbed because these lesser beings simply lacked the capacity to surprise him.

I don't want to deny anyone the right to develop themselves to the fullest degree possible. But there already appear to be so many techniques that could easily be used synergistically with one another, which very few of even the cognoscenti employ with any regularity and which are virtually unknown among (much less used by) the general public. I see a "capabilities gap" opening up (or potentially opening up) firstly between "those who can" and "those who do" and secondarily between "those who do" and "those who haven't got a clue." =) Though this gap has an economic element to it, with floatation tanks in particular having great potential to enhance abilities and multiply the benefits of other techniques and technologies, the chief factor involved is an absence of will in most students in this field.

There is an argument to be made in favor of treating these methods as a mere hobby. You could certainly point out that no one is known to have yet achieved an indisputable "higher order" of intelligence by using these methods, unless you count certain specific areas of ability, such as invention or problem-solving. You could also argue that their impact on your life, even where you have exerted yourself to employ a rewarding technique, has been, while helpful, perhaps not earth-shaking.

I would respond by pointing to an event in my own recent experience. While working on some business matters over the last few months, I began discussing new applications for our company's product with a couple other people. Eventually, one of our ideas has flowered, and it now appears that when this further application is operating in a few months, it will mean the difference between a modestly profitable and well-received product and one that earns millions of dollars in profits.. a year.

(You will excuse me if I make no further explanation of what this product is or what I do for various business and personal reasons -- if you believe I happen to work in the mail room of a business that sells personalized Chia Pets, that's suits my purposes perfectly. =) )

My point, however, is that with a small but effective application of creativity, many people are in a position to vastly improve their situation or that of their family, team, company, friends, school, etc. You do not need to be the President of the United States in order to have an enormous impact on your own life, indeed, you probably have far more influence over your own fate than he does.

I will grant you that becoming a multi-millionaire or famous performer or celebrated artist or writer will require more than a single creative idea (for most people anyway). But that goes back to the absence of will I have been talking about. I see a world in which even in the near term most of us could choose to be earning, say, hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars a year -- even for those of us who quickly chose to retire. And in which we could all be actively enhancing our talents to a tremendous degree in order to accomplish other goals, in particular goals relating to improving the human condition at a local level or on a very large scale.

The choice is ours. But to make that choice requires more than a moment's resolution. It requires the steady application of effort over days and weeks and months and years. But remember, most of us are working anyway, whether at jobs or at school or as the owners of our own businesses. Or even as dedicated hobbyists. And all of us are alive and conscious if nothing else. Will it really take that much effort to overcome our inertia and utilize procedures that demand so very little from us? Especially when they can be applied to make the truly onerous aspects of our lives that much easier? I think not. And I urge others to take the path that I am trying to take at this time. If not for the world and human evolution, then at least for yourselves.


O'Reilly's book, Frank Herbert, can be found here:
http://tim.oreilly.com/herbert/ch01.html


Future Imperative

Link to a Free Online Book on Dune Author's Ideas about Developing Superhumans - AI, AL, Bio, Dark, MA, Myst, Noo, Psych, Rev, Self, SF, Soc, Super

Tim O'Reilly, the author of this book, Frank Herbert, placed it online for general consumption. Based on "extensive interviews" with Frank Herbert, all of his novels up through Children of Dune and other source materials, it discusses Herbert's ideas on how to develop superhuman levels of ability in otherwise relatively ordinary people.

"Dune was set up to imprint on you, the reader, a superhero. I wanted you so totally involved with that superhero in all his really fine qualities. And then I wanted to show what happens, in a natural, evolutionary process. And not betray reason or process." -- Frank Herbert

http://tim.oreilly.com/herbert/ch01.html

I will review this work in greater detail soon. In the meantime, let me say -- This is a magnificent book. Herbert clearly wants to develop superhuman levels of ability and insight in human beings, but he is anything but blind to the potential drawbacks. In particular, he sees the "superhero" as a figure that can potentially push humanity away from the expanded insight and independence that s/he represents. The superhero is a force people can turn to in order to hide from the universe's uncertainty through dependency on an all-wise guide or ruler. The amount of thought Herbert has put into this subject is evident with every chapter.

Here is an excerpt from the first page.

"Imagine a world so dry that one man might kill another for the moisture in his body. From its deep desert, guarded by enormous, predatory sandworms, comes a spice with the power to prolong life and evoke visions of the future. Ten thousand worlds are dependent on that spice--a Galactic Empire, seemingly strong, but rigid and ruled by fear. One man stands against the desert and the Empire. Driven out into the sand to die, he promises the ecological transformation of the water- starved planet and unites its people in a holy war to seize control of the spice, the future, and the Empire.

"This is the world of Frank Herbert's Dune, considered by many people to be the greatest science-fiction novel ever written, and certainly the pinnacle of Herbert's own art. Each reader finds a different reason for praise. One is struck by the scope of the creation--an entire world, detailed in topography, ecology and culture. Another seizes on the relevance of its ecological themes. All are fascinated by the characters--epic heroes who sweep their worlds and the reader into their struggles. Heroism, romance, philosophy--Dune has all of these, crafted into the vision of a future one might almost believe has already happened, a history stolen from its rightful place millennia hence."

And further...

"Even in so short a summary, one begins to see Herbert's essential themes. One of his central ideas is that human consciousness exists on--and by virtue of--a dangerous edge of crisis, and that the most essential human strength is the ability to dance on that edge. The more man confronts the dangers of the unknown, the more conscious he becomes. All of Herbert's books portray and test the human ability to consciously adapt. He sets his characters in the most stressful situations imaginable: a cramped submarine in Under Pressure, his first novel; the desert wastes of Dune; and in Destination: Void the artificial tension of a spaceship designed to fail so that the crew will be forced to develop new abilities. There is no test so powerfully able to bring out latent adaptability as one in which the stakes are survival."

Let me repeat, this is a magnificent book. If you are at all interested in the depth of thinking that went into one of science fiction's classic novels, this is the book for you. If you are interested in Herbert's ideas about realizing human potential, this is the book for you. And it doesn't hurt that the whole thing can be read for free online.

If you're interested in reading any of the host of Frank Herbert novels discussed in Frank Herbert, just check out the list of links below.


Dune



Dune Messiah



Children of Dune



Under Pressure (or Dragon in the Sea)



Destination: Void



The Green Brain



The Eyes of Heisenberg



The Santaroga Barrier



Hellstrom's Hive



Soul Catcher



Whipping Star



The Dosadi Experiment



The Heaven Makers



The Jesus Incident



The Godmakers
(O’Reilly prefers the original short stories)




Future Imperative

Energy Breathing - Supercharging Your Body With a Simple Exercise -- Easy, Myst, Psych, Self

Another great technique from Dr. Wenger, Energy Breathing is a tremendously energizing exercise. It's also the initial step in some even more impressive methodologies he shares in Beyond O.K. This protocol will take more than a minute or two to learn, but little more than that to execute, once you know how.

The subject of personal energy levels raises an interesting question: How much of a genius' gift results from the energy they have and are willing to direct towards their work -- day after day, year after year, until a genius is operating at a much higher level than most of his or her contemporaries?

But that's a discussion for another time.



Life-Directed Energy Fields

Some of the following protocols fit few, if any, existing world views and expectations. Some few of them have no satisfactory explanation or even hypothesis as yet. Yet each of the following protocols works to produce the effects described and is here presented for testing and for such effects as we have noted or you may find in relation to human health and well-being.

If some of the matters encountered below seem pretty wild, that is only because of our ignorance. The laws of nature are never wild, only our misunderstandings of them. As with the energy protocols with which this book opened, you will find energy fields to be so normal, essential and concretely tangible a part of your body’s functioning and nature, it is there like your own hand, to do things with. As normal as is the circulation of its sister transport-medium, the blood.

Perhaps you already realize, as a theoretical matter, that since energy and chemistry are essentially the same thing, to change an electrical field changes biochemical processes. Perhaps you have also heard, as a theoretical matter, of the use of low-level electrical fields by recent researchers such as the well-published W.O. Becker, M.D., of Veterans Hospital in Syracuse, New York, to regenerate lost limbs in rats and other laboratory animals. Through some of the following procedures, you may move from theory to tangible experience.

Hot-Stove Hand-Flinging Energizer: a short-cut for establishing a strong-enough experience of energy (for yourself, for your partner, or for an entire group you may be guiding) to:

· Satisfy yourself (and others) as to the tangible, working reality of these energy fields – energy fields which are consequential for the well-being of living organisms such as yourself, and which are easily directed by intention, visualization, and other activities.

· Experience these strongly enough that by playing with them, you will experience enough feedback to learn some of the infinitely diverse (and consequential) things you can do with them; and

· Add definition to your perceptions with which you work the protocols following this one, below.

Your objective with this first procedure is to create a strong tingling or other sensation in your hands and fingers. As you do this and move your hands slowly, closely past one another as they tingle, you should experience changes in the tingling. Those changes in sensation, related to your hand-movements, should tell you something about the shapes, gradients, depths and intensities of the energy fields you are dealing with. The procedure itself is to bring a very strong flow of blood circulation (accompanied by strong energy circulation) to your hands and fingers by what amounts to centrifugal force by these actions:

1. Like touching a hot stove with both hands, violently shake-fling each hand up and down, with free rotary motion from the wrist, for 3 minutes or until you have strong tingling in your hands and fingers. (You may do well to remove watch and rings beforehand.) Fling your hands about with real snap, as violently and rapidly as you can, see “how close you can come to flying” from the sheer force and rapidity of your hands’ flinging.

2. Once you have strong tingling, move the finger-tips of both hands very close together, and draw them slowly apart, without touching, and study the changes in sensation this action produces. Bring your hands close together (parallel) and slowly slide your fingertips of one hand past the fingertips of the other hand without quite touching, and study the changing sensations this action produces.

3. See if you can spray out energy lines-of-force, like so many little hoses, out the fingers of one hand onto the fingers and palm of the other hand, playing these “hose-streams” slowly back and forth and studying the felt sensations in your “receiving” hand and in your “sending” hand. Reverse the roles of your hands, several times, compare the sensations until you determine with which hand you “send” most strongly and with which you “receive” most strongly.

4. In any event, take a strong “mental photograph” of the feeling of the tingling or other special sensation, whatever this sensation happens to be for you. Use the memory of that feeling (or of some other strong energy-feeling experience if you’ve had such) to work with in the protocols below.

Energy Breathing:

1. Become very conscious of the top of your scalp. Become increasingly conscious of the top of your scalp.

2. Become also very conscious of the bottoms of your feet. Become increasingly conscious of both the top of your scalp and the bottoms of your feet.

3. While becoming increasingly conscious of both the top of your scalp and the bottoms of your feet, become also increasingly conscious of the column of space which connects the top of your scalp with the bottoms of your feet.

4. Like filling up a transparent bottle with white milk, suddenly fill up that column of space with living, tingly, bright life energy. Use your memory of hands tingling to add to this effect, imagining that feeling all through your body – or imagine yourself all tingling like one long drink of ginger-ale.

5. Breathe in all the way from your feet, the full length of your body as when you were learning to noise-removal breathe < http://www.winwenger.com/part29.htm >, to make this energy flare brighter with each breath the way fire flares brighter when you pull air in on it. See how bright, how fiery you can make this energy become.

6. Notice which area or areas of your body are experiencing this energy most strongly. Picture a halo of energy surrounding this part of your body. Breathe in some of this halo, through this part of your body, see how much thereby you can deepen, spread and intensify the energy experience in this region of your body.

7. Notice or imagine that the halo gets brighter each time that you pull some of it into your body with your breath – that several times more get replaced in the halo from beyond it, than is pulled into your body, with each breath.

8. See this halo as actually surrounding your whole body – but breathe in mainly through the parts of your body which are experiencing energy most strongly. Notice that because there is more energy in the halo from beyond it, with each breath, more is drawn more and more easily into your body from that halo, with each breath.

9. See if you can keep building the intensity and area of this strongest area of energy experience until it involves your whole body.





Future Imperative

One More Word Regarding "More Than Human" -- Bio, Cyber, Long, Noo, Psych, Soc, Rev, Tech, $$$

Here's a further comment from More Than Human's author Ramez Naam on why he wrote his book...



Why I Wrote This Book

In 1999, a friend suggested to me that within a few decades we'd have Matrix-esque implants in our brains that would, among other things, allow us to interact in a completely believable virtual reality and beam our thoughts instantly to one another. I pooh-pooh'ed the idea. The brain and body are much too complex to manipulate in that way, or so I thought.

That same year a scientist named Phil Kennedy in Atlanta implanted an electrode into the brain of a paralyzed patient named Johnny Ray - a stroke victim who was completely unable to move, speak, or feed himself. The electrode monitored the activity of just a few neurons inside the patients brain. But through it Johnny was able to learn to control a computer - moving a cursor around on a screen and typing out messages.

Later that year, Joe Tsien at Princeton made the cover of Time Magazine with his Doogie mice - genetically engineered mice that could learn at astounding speeds, up to five times as fast as genetically normal mice.

And that year is also when I learned of the pioneering longevity research of scientists like Tom Johnston at Colorado, who had genetically altered nematode worms to more than double their lifespan and preserve youthful health into old age. Suddenly, it seemed, science was resembling science fiction.

At the same time, there were a number of voices raised in concern over these technologies. What does it mean to extend our lives, boost our mental abilities, or integrate our minds with computers? Would we still be human? What would happen to society? To equality? To the meaning of life?

So I wrote this book to cover these two, interrelated topics:

1)The science of human enhancement - what's actually happening in the labs and what that could lead to in the near future.

2)The ethics, social consequences, and policy challenges of human enhancement. Basically, what we should or shouldn't do with this technology.

More Than Human is an optimistic book, but it's a cautious optimism. Along the way it looks at issues like the effect of longer lives on overpopulation, on socio-economic stratification and whether these technologies would help the rich pull further away from the poor, and at issues like human identity, and whether we could even call ourselves human after changing ourselves in such ways.

It's not a utopian book. There can be no doubt that using biotechnology to alter the human mind, body, and lifespan will lead to problems. But the conclusion I come to in the book is that these technologies will solve more problems than they create. And that the alternative - to prohibit their use - will create many more problems than it will solve.



And here's the More Than Human link again, for anyone burning with curiosity:




Future Imperative

Monday, March 14, 2005

"More Than Human," Intriguing Book (Excerpts) and Blog -- Bio, Cyber, Long, Noo, Psych, Soc, Rev, Tech, $$$

Ah, and another nifty link or three. Here's the homepage for More Than Human, a book about the technologies the author, Ramez Naam, claims will make it possible for us to make humans stronger, faster, smarter, longer-lived, etc.

http://www.morethanhuman.org/

This is probably my favorite quote (so far) on the site, "In 1999, researchers searching for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease genetically engineered a strain of mice that can learn things five times as quickly as their normal kin – super-intelligent mice." Think about it, "super-intelligent mice." And don't worry, superstrong mice also come up before you even finish the excerpts.

I am going to be terribly disappointed if humanity is replaced by a Master Race of white lab mice while still dithering over enhancement issues. =)

Seriously, here's the blog: http://www.morethanhuman.org/blog/

Here's a link to some excerpts from the book:

http://www.morethanhuman.org/contents

Judging from the outline of More Than Human (and the writing in these excerpts) Ramez Naam appears to be assembling a strong argument along the lines of Gregory Stock's Redesigning Humans -- that human enhancement is coming as a by-product of other scientific research, whether we consciously try to develop it or not.

Stock's powerful argument for the inevitability of human genetic enhancement deserves its own review. But Naam seems to have taken that argument and applied it to other medical research such as the brain implants used to restore lost sight and mobility -- research which could also be applied to developing bionic or cybernetic enhancements for ordinary, healthy human beings.

It looks like he has covered a number of major potential biotech enhancements... neural implants, mind-to-mind communications, smart drugs, longevity treatments, gene therapy, genetic engineering and improvements in how we reproduce "test tube babies" (over one million of whom have already been born). Naam also sets aside more than one chapter to discuss the social, economic and personal human impact these innovations will have.

Here's a link to the book itself on Amazon:



“More Than Human is excellent—passionate yet balanced, clearly written and rich with fascinating details. A wonderful overview of a topic that will dominate the twenty-first century.” —Greg Bear, author of Dead Lines and Darwin’s Children

The author also likes this review, which he says captures the essence of his arguments:

http://nusapiens.blogspot.com/2005/03/book-review-more-than-human.html

Given the "becoming superhuman" theme of the forum, I like to keep throwing out links to "what's out there." Sadly, a full review of his book will have to wait until I can get my hands on it. And I commonly use Amazon's free (that is, slowest) delivery. But in the meantime, I'm enjoying his site and blog, and look forward to dissecting his ideas on here once I've had a chance to read, re-read and furiously debate his book face-to-face.


Future Imperative

Review: Two Different Government Views of the Future - AI, AL, Bio, Cyber, Gov, Mind, Nano, Noo, Plan, Psych, Self, SF, SkiP, Soc, Rev, Tech

According to John Smart, "The original version of this article was written for a transformative technology scenario project set in 2032, for the U.S. Army Logistics Transformation Agency."

Smart has an interesting, information-technology-dominated take on the future. Essentially, the only real human enhancement that matters in his future is based on non-invasive computer systems -- advanced expert programs, computer modelling, emerging (limited) AI, etc.

His does a good job of fleshing out the capabilities of non-cybernetic infotech in the world he forecasts, but everything else that might lead to human enhancement -- even the relatively pedestrian, non-controversial ideas, like powered armor for soldiers, seems to get brushed aside.

"All those old twentieth-century bioenhancement ideas about genetic engineering of humans, super-drugs for mental performance, extreme life extension, and brain-machine interfaces (except for people with disabilities), turned out to be like the 1900s' ideas about flying houses and atomic-powered vacuum cleaners: possible in theory, perhaps achievable some day, in theory, but always outcompeted in practice by far more powerful, efficient and less controversial digital alternatives every step of the way."

Here's the curious thing. Another recent government report on potential scientific breatkthroughs says pretty much the opposite about four "converging technologies," nanotech, biotech, infotech and cognotech. (Cognotech is technology designed to enhance the mind.) The "Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance" document states:

"This report sets goals for societal and educational transformation. Building on the suggestions developed in the five topical groups, and the ideas in the more than 50 individual contributions, the workshop recommended a national R&D priority area on converging technologies focused on enhancing human performance." That's quite a conclusion.

Since computers (infotech) are only one of the technologies this report looks at, there is obviously a difference of opinion here. The implications of the 2002 "Converging Technologies" report are so huge I intend to discuss them in another post. (Probably more than one, given time.) But clearly John Smart's paper takes a different position when he comments on the exclusive use of information technology to "enhance" humans.

"There's just no better bang for the buck, and the social and political repercussions are far less bothersome as well."

Smart adds, regarding the threat of bio-terrorism,

"What about global immunity against bioterror? Human-made super-viruses turned out to be way less dangerous than we feared. The bottom line is that our biological immune systems have always protected us, as a species, tremendously well against these simple invaders, and every plague in history occurred because of "differential immunity" that emerged between certain well immunized groups and other poorly immunized ones within the same species. That's why no pathogen in history has ever killed a species. In other words, in the history of life, immune systems always win, and the more our biologists understand them, the better we get defending against everything that comes."

Now I appreciate the idea that improving computer resources should prove invaluable in dealing with bio-terrorism (speeding the rate at which epidemics can be analyzed genetically, vaccines can be developed, etc). But dismissing human-made viruses at this point seems a little premature, given that bio-terrorism is only exceeded by nuclear terrorism in its immediate threat to humanity.

Neither one may wipe us out (unless one of them sparks a nuclear war), but that result will be of little comfort to millions of dead victims.

Like the offhand dismissal of power armor as a factor in the militaries of 2032, that seems to be making some huge assumptions about the state of technology a quarter-century from now in every field except infotech.

Smart may be limited by the parameters of the Pentagon scenario he was working with. It's not unknown for the military's futurists to look at extreme situations to see what kinds of capabilities would be needed if the world lurched as far as it could in one direction.

Hopefully this scenario was not imposed by someone who wanted to remove all mention of "disturbing" technology from a report. I belong to the school of thought which says that whatever you ultimately choose to do, you need to make your decisions based upon the best possible information available.

Then again, John Smart may simply have a very different viewpoint than my own. =)

Regardless, he has two brief but interesting short stories, Future Heroes 2035: My Friends and I and Future Heroes 2035: The Big Picture. These are great reading if you want to share some of infotech's potential in a very readable way. Not everybody we know out there is a futurist. Really. =)


Future Imperative

Superpower or Alternative Healing, Which Is It? Does It Matter? -- Easy, Myst, Psych, Self

And here’s the second half of that previous energy-sensing technique -- this is the part that coams out energy blockages and which is recommended (by its inventor) for certain alternative healing methods.


B. Discovering One-Another's Energy Fields:

With a friend as partner--

1. Have your partner, arms loosely above the lap without touching extend his or her left hand frontward as in #A-1 above.

2. Bring each of your hands, fingers of one hand pointing toward the fingers of your other hand, to within an inch on either side of your partner's hand. Imagine the fingers of both your hands extended and joined together, index-finger to index-finger, middle finger to middle finger, etc., with the imagined juncture in the middle of your partner's hand.

3. Imagine your extended-linked fingers as a net to scoop up and move energy in your partner's hand and arm. In slow movement, scoop and comb energy down your partner's arm, wrist and hand to the fingers, bringing more and more to add to that energy around your partner's fingers. Each of you study the resultant sensations.

4. Have your partner imagine his or her hand expanded an inch or so in all directions--and continue combing your partner's arm-wrist-hand as above. Both of you study the resultant sensations, describe them to each other, compare notes.

5. Take turns, switching roles. Experiment around. Let the feedback sensations of what you are doing, teach you things about what you are observing.

Electricity and chemistry are the same thing. At least some of the energy fields you are perceiving have an electrical component, since such effects show up on scientific instrumentation measuring electricity. Change the electrical environment of a chemical (or bio-chemical, or psycho-chemical) process and you change that process!-- This helps explain at least some of the healing effects caused through working with these life-directed energy fields.

Changes in electrical charge occur with every instance of illness or injury, and are also closely associated with the ongoing process of healing. Dr. W. O. Becker, of Syracuse Hospital in New York and widely published in medical literature, has gone a step further and even regenerated lost limbs in rats through artificially-induced changes in electrical fields! Recent medical literature also shows that changes in rates of healing are easily produced through such artificially-induced changes in electrical fields.

Another datum: There is no such thing as "bad" energy (contrary to the teachings of some disciplines). There is only congested energy, and flowing energy as part of the living resources serving the living organism. Once congested energy is moved and flowing again, it is part of the living resources of the organism.

The following procedures complete the healing on most old or chronic injuries, mitigates or heals many instances of recent injury or illness, and almost always prevents swelling, congestion or inflammation in new injuries-- even in most instances of burn or sprain. As you use this procedure and explore new effects with it, you are in for even further surprises...

C. An Easy Way to Heal and to Do Healing: Energy Combing--

Again with a partner. This procedure can be a continuation of Part B, above.

1. Without touching, slowly run your fingers along your partner's body in such a way that, by imagining your fingers to be 3-4 inches longer than they are, you are running your imagined finger-extensions 2-3 inches deep through the flesh and bone of your partner's body. Use either or both hands. Always move in the direction from your partner's head towards the extremities, or "lifting" away from your partner's head or body in whatever direction.

2. Explore. See if you can find any other places in your partner's body which feel to you like the energy you found around your partner's hands--in the hands that was good, living energy; elsewhere around the body such piled-up effects are congested energy.

3. When you find such areas of congested energy, comb through that energy with your "extended" hands, feeling it as strongly as you can (still without physically touching the body) pulling that energy away from the head, toward the extremities or out away from the body. Any kind of energy-anomaly feeling, treat in this manner. Just comb and move the energy--you need neither add nor take away energy from your partner.

4. If energy piles up around your partner's feet, ask him to remove shoes. If it continues, ask partner to imagine his or her legs to be a yard or so longer. That pile-up effect, which happens only occasionally anyway, will then dissipate and all such previously congested energy will return to living flow.

5. Proceed intuitively: Respond to what you feel. Don't be surprised if energy combing one part of the body changes sensations in some other, remote part of the body, because of the way energy-masses and energy lines-of-flow interconnect around the body. You then study the sensations resulting from this combing procedure, and compare notes on what is happening. Like brushing hair, aim to finish energy combing with the impression of your partner's energy body smoothed, glossy, vibrantly alive. Switch and take turns.

6. If you find any particularly strong energy pile-up spots, and/or if your partner has any injuries, disorders or discomfort-areas for you to comb through, have your partner imagine that particular corresponding part of the body to be an inch larger and an inch further out from the center of the body (which improved blood-flow is also valuable in promoting healing).

Explanation: Blood, lymph and energy-flow are the main transport vehicles by which the body rushes its resources to whatever disordered part of the system to set matters to rights. Efforts to shut down or block pain or distress, trigger a reflex which impedes circulation, causing congestion. These three transport vehicles interact: congestion in one triggers congestion in the others--and release of energy-congestion usually releases or prevents congestion in the others allowing the body's natural healing resources to complete their task.

Other Uses:

* To correct deficient peripheral circulation in diabetics and in some aged persons.

* To postpone death, where failing peripheral circulation causes many dying patients to die from internal fever effects even while their skin chills. Energy-comb from the body center toward the extremities-- only where there is valid reason to postpone death for awhile. If the patient is conscious, he or she can aid immensely by imagining his or her own arms and legs to be a lot longer, and imagining the entire body expanded an inch or so in all directions.

* To prevent or treat traumatic shock in accident victims-- by combing energy away from the center of the body out the arms and legs. If the victim is conscious, he or she can help immensely by imagining arms and legs to be several yards longer, and to expand all the body by an inch or so except in the area of the injury (that limitation only if bleeding is severe).

* To stimulate higher-quality development in fetuses before birth-- especially if the pregnant mother also, several times a day, imagines the uterine are an inch larger and further out from the center of her body to increase blood-circulation to the fetus and thereby increase the rate of removal of toxic wastes. Highly healthier, brighter, superior children result.

(Any obstetrician or other physician or maternity care specialist reading this is urged to contact this writer to participate in some formal field-test demonstrations of child-enhancement. The author also intends early publication of a text for parents on child- development methods.)

INTRODUCTION
As you can see by now, Beyond OK is not a book about anything—it is a book of working tools whose use generates experiences. These experiences-- your own experiences--are what teach you new information, new insights, new skills, relating to health and, indeed, relating to all other sectors of your life.


As I said before, this is an incredibly rich book, especially for anyone interested in taking simple, practical steps to increase their overall capabilities (your intelligence, health, senses, etc).

As a great fan of Dr. Wenger's work, much of which can be found for free at... http://www.winwenger.com

As a great fan of his work, I'm going to end with a link to that scarce and elusive book of his, Beyond O.K. (Which contains a great many of the exercises he has not yet given away for free on the Net.) Thanks for listening...




Future Imperative

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Intellectual Blind Spots -- Bio, Myst, Psych, Soc, SkiP

*
All right, we all have them. Intellectual blind spots -- a feeling that you already know enough about a subject to dismiss an idea as fanciful, or else accept it unthinkingly. Normally this would be someone's cue to begin a rant about the blindness of "the Establishment," but forget that debate for a moment.

What I really wanted to bring up was the unconscious prejudice that haunts almost every open-minded futurist. Someone particularly excited about the potential of artificial intelligence, for example, might dismiss a healthy diet and exercise as needless distractions, see genetics and nootropics as inherent dead ends and look at the greatest accomplishments of martials artists and other mental and physical prodigies as curious primitive exercises.

None of which is conducive to seeing the hidden value in other disciplines. This point is particularly important if we don't have a "Rapture Event" in any human enhancement field -- an invention or discovery so radical that it renders everything else beside the point. In AI, that would be the development of a superintelligent, "posthuman" supercomputer that immediately takes over the planet (while fast on its way to "godhood"). In cybernetics, it would be "uploading" an entire human consciousness into a supercomputer -- and having beings at least as smart as humans who think a million times faster.

If you have an event like either of those in the near future, you can be excused in the meantime for neither knowing nor caring about modern biological research. After all, everyone is about to stop being biological.

But in the real world, meanwhile, no such event has occurred (or at least, not that anyone knows of). So maybe a technology that makes you smarter or healthier will turn out to be useful in the meantime -- maybe even to help achieve that revolutionary technology you've got your heart set on.

The other aspect of blind spots is simple. I'm about to share a technique on this blog for developing the ability to sense a kind of energy. It's very simple, takes about a minute to learn, and is the sort of thing that skeptics and biologists often dismiss because the idea of sensing energy you can't properly quantify bothers many people. These are the kinds of facts which don't fit well into a materialistic world view.

The irony is, if you believe in the Scientific Method, you're obliged to look at the actual facts and develop your theories from there. Not to shuffle the facts to fit your theories.

The even greater irony? The following technique may actually be just the result of bio-electric fields in your hands and body interacting with one another, etc. But because most "serious scientists" will never look at questions like this, even when the data is easily replicated, they end up leaving this research to other people. People who make lack the training, resources or inclination to examine the question rigorously. Or who may simply be quacks.

My suggestion? If it only takes a couple minutes to test, try it, and draw your own conclusions. Don't blindly trust my assumptions or anyone else's. The quality of your thinking can only improve as a result.


Future Imperative

Take One Minute -- Develop Your Own Superpower. Seriously. -- Easy, Myst, Psych, Self

Naturally, I’m serious. Though training you in this "mystical power" could take as many as two minutes.

Here's the first part of an alternative healing technique. This part teaches you how to sense your own bio-energies. The second part (to be posted later) explains how to use this skill to help heal yourself or others.

Hey, I didn't say it was an earth-shaking superpower, but it works. Take a minute and see for yourself. :)

So here's the first section of Dr. Wenger's "Immediately Test For Yourself: One-Minute Way to Learn to Detect & Guide Life-Involved Energy Fields and 20-Minute Method By Which Anyone Can Learn To Heal."


GOOD NEWS INDEED: Energy perception is now easier than ever—and so is becoming an effective healer!

Exactly as the above title states!

This new introductory energy-perception method not only does not require any exertion, any previous training or sensitization or proficiency, but has thus far proven effective in developing energy perception in more than 99% of the persons trying it--even better than 95% of elderly persons trying it.

Yes--every organism, including you, has its own complex of life-associated energy fields which are vital to its survival and well-being. That is not theory: It is completely tangible to your sense of touch!

Doubt is healthy, skepticism is needed for contemporary survival and is also required for scientific progress. The other requirement of scientific progress is TESTING! If you have the slightest doubt that life-directed energy fields are a working reality for you, TEST! here and now, this minute, the following procedure.

Rationality demands nothing less of you. It costs you not one cent, but one minute. (To discover, by sections B & C below, how to also be an effective healer, costs you only 10-20 minutes and, again, not one cent! Here, in one minute, to demonstrate life-directed energy fields as a working reality for you, is the following:

A. Putting Your Own Energy Out to Where You Can Feel It--The "Long Fingers" Combing Technique:

With your arms up loosely just above your lap--

1. Extend your left hand and fingers horizontally straight out in front of you.

2. Bring the fingers of your right hand to within an inch of the fingers and palm of your left hand. Do not touch.

3. Imagine the fingers of your right hand 3 inches longer than they actually are so that they (in imagination) extend through the palm of your left hand.

4. Without touching your two hands together, slowly move your right hand up and back along palm and fingers of your right hand so that the imagined extension of your right-hand fingers moves along through the fingers and palm of your left hand. Study the resulting sensation.

5. Imagine your left hand is an inch larger in all directions: As you move your "extended" right-hand fingers "through" your "expanded" left hand, study the resultant sensations.

6. Continue, play with the sensations, try variations. Study the effects when you run your "extended" right-hand fingers "through" your left wrist..."through" your left arm..."through" other parts of your body...Switch hands. Keep experimenting: The feedback will keep teaching you more and more.

Explanatory note: The imagined extension and expansion "throw" energy out where it can more readily interact with whatever other energy. Movement of interacting energy fields generates sensations you feel; that movement should be very slow at first to sufficiently involve each of your nerve endings to feed you back the sensations.


My thanks for Dr. Win Wenger for coming up with the above technique in the first place. If you're curious about these kinds of simple but effective exercises, you can check out this book, Beyond O.K., here.
This text is packed with fascinating exercises. I've tried about four dozen of the 87 or so in the book, and have found every one of them to be exceptionally powerful, and almost all extremely easy to accomplish. Probably the best thing about Beyond O.K. is that it's almost entirely given over to practical and effective exercises, rather than the endless philosophizing some authors indulge in.
Unfortunately, there's very few new copies of the book still floating around, but you can usually dig up a used copy if sites like Amazon have sold out.
I'll share the second half of this exercise, it's "alternative healing" component, a bit later.

Human Potential and How to Transcend It -- Plan, Self, Soc

This website is for people who are interested in the idea of being exceptional, or a genius, or even “superhuman.”

Why would anyone want to be “more than human”? To transcend the accepted physical and mental limitations of the average person? Perhaps a better question would be, “Why not?”

The desire to run faster, see further and know and understand more and more is as natural as any child. But somewhere along the course of our lives too many people lose interest in having an extraordinary life. Instead we settle into what is safe, or comfortable, or just “getting by.”

This site shares a wide spectrum of ideas and information about humanity’s potential to become far, far more than most people would even dream is possible. This blog differs from many sources that touch on this subject, however. The field of human enhancement is so extensive that people are often focused narrowly on their own work. Or failing that, on their field and maybe one or two others.

So if you search the Internet for information on extraordinary human potential, you will typically find bionics/cybernetics close to artificial intelligence, but separated from genetic engineering or nootropic “smart drugs.” People interested in improving themselves through cybernetic enhancements often ignore the potential of genetic modification and pharmaceuticals, not to mention prosaic methods like diet and exercise. And sites examining all of the above methods are often completely unaware of the amazing work going on with accelerated learning and intelligence-enhancement techniques. Meanwhile, martial arts, among the most accepted methods for improving human mental and physical capabilities, gets to languish in its own little subculture, as do hobbies like bodybuilding.

The point of this site isn’t to tell you which of the above paths is going to be best for you, or even whether you want to begin this journey of radical personal development. Or how far you might wish to go.

The point of this site is to give you access to valuable information on how you can potentially make your mind, your body and your life vastly better – using technologies that may be right around the corner, and more than a few that are already here.

I believe the future can be shaped, for good or ill, by the conscious decisions of individuals. We can choose to be all that we can, or, by failing to choose, decide to be something… less.

This site is all about those decisions. Please enjoy.


Future Imperative