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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.


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.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Psychotherapy, Lost in the Wilderness... -- Psych, Soc

Psychotherapists have recently met in what the Times calls a "landmark meeting," trying to decide where exactly the field should go from here. With aging luminaries and a conflicting push to have scientifically testable methods on the one hand while still embracing the unquantifiable relationship between the therapist and patient on the other, this field has plenty of challenges to overcome.

In fairness, the field of human augmentation, with the often radically differing perspectives of its various researchers and their various specialties, would probably have similiar troubles -- if most of its researchers and enthusiasts were even aware of each other. And if there weren't all too much scientifically verifiable data available in those "hard" softtech disciplines whose claims are being tested.

The curious thing about the field of psychology, however, is that it could easily become one of the most effective and influential of human enhancement disciplines if numbers of its practitioners embraced the idea of helping people become "better than well." But evidently we haven't yet reached that point. Not necessarily because of a sheer lack of imagination, but possibly because many therapists are still buried in all of the badly wounded patients they can help... and those they can't.

The Times article ends with the following words:
Across the street at Disneyland, where just about any metaphor is available for the taking, Dr. Siegel was working out the meaning of the park for himself. A native of Los Angeles, he has many memories of visiting as a child, perhaps nowhere more so than the circular drive in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle.

"The circle of choice," he said, looking around. "This is where you decide, where you think about your mood and which way you want to go - to Frontierland, Tomorrowland."

By all appearances in Anaheim, the field of psychotherapy has arrived at the circle of choice.

The question is, How to get to Tomorrowland?

Strangely enough, I have a feeling we're standing in it. Or at least, we know how to point the way.

Future Imperative

The Freedom To Be Mediocre... -- Soc

Mark White recently wrote something that summed up a lot of opposition to human enhancement for me. "If people were satisfied they wouldn't need to try to improve themselves."

That's probably the harshest indictment I've ever seen of people who take an absolutist position against self-improvement. Why? Because it doesn't just apply to this pharmaceutical or that genetic augmentation. That statement seems to take a stand against all forms of human self-improvement -- arguing, in effect, that if we felt content we could not only dispense with "radical self-enhancement" using technology and cutting-edge techniques, but also traditional methods like diet, exercise and an excellent education.

The sad thing is, this level of satisfaction is arguably far more widespread in western societies that White believes. In The World Is Flat, Tom Friedman of the New York Times argues that while the populations of developed nations, particularly in North America and Western Europe, had become very satisfied with their relative prosperity, many eager, hungry young people were now able to "plug and play" and compete in an increasingly "flat" world -- a world where geography matters far less than ideas, talent and drive. As 3 billion people, from India, China and the old Soviet Bloc, are able to get more and more access to this interconnected modern world (in the wake of a century that Arnold Toynbee said was "marked by the destruction of distance"), everything will change in the face of the competition, and opportunities, they bring with them.

My point? It doesn't matter whether or not you or I feel satisfied with our present condition or not. There are billions of people out there who have never had the opportunities you and I have had, and who have never had the option of saying, "That's okay. I could do great things, but an ordinary life in the advanced world is enough for me. I think I'll just relax and enjoy what I've got."

These people haven't got much of anything, and realize they'll have to work very hard for much of their lives whether they choose to be successful or not. So you're seeing the brightest of these billions seizing every opportunity they can in order to win their way to the level of prosperity you and I may take for granted.

White adds, "But our societies are based on the concept of endless growth, so they rely on us never being satisfied."

Whatever you may think of this latter statement, remember... we may choose to be laid back, we may choose to head back to the land. But you're never going to persuade those billions to head back to the village, the ghetto or the collective. This is the 21 Century, not the 19th... or the 12th. And they're here to stay.

But good luck with all of that "Eastern" philosophy. =)

(Note: White's summary of pharmaceutical augmentation research in his larger article on pharmaceuticals is a good glimpse of how someone who holds a particular viewpoint can become antagonistic to the human enhancement field. So if you're curious, there you go. Though you may have heard this all before...)

Future Imperative

As Longevity Becomes Big Business... -- Bio, Long, Soc

The following news release excerpt on the 13th Annual International Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine is interesting for a number of reasons, but in particular because it strongly hints at the enormous business potential that companies are waking up to in the anti-aging crusade. Services and products as diverse as psycholological counselling, stem cell research, hormone treatments, cosmetics, plastic surgery and so forth are all seeing what a stake they have in this field... and are apparently starting to work together to promote their diverse and promising new industry.

Because so many of these services and products are not in direct conflict with one another, their providers have every reason to collaborate in promoting the idea of healthy longevity, and in staving off special interests with reasons to frustrate their aims.

All of which suggests we'll soon be looking at powerful industry juggernaut promoting longevity and this form of human enhancement technology. And so the world changes again.

Largest Medical Conference Highlighting 2005 Advancements in Human
Longevity Attracts Record-Setting Attendance

Download this press
release as an Adobe PDF document.

Chicago, IL (PRWEB) December 26, 2005 -- A record-setting 5,000+ delegates and corporate leaders participated in the world's premier scientific conference on topics relating to medical interventions to prevent and treat the diseases and disabilities associated with the biological process of aging. These cutting-edge innovative physicians and health practitioners who are involved in improving and extending the human lifespan hailed from more than 50 nations around the world.

Over the four-day scientific program that took place 9-12 December 2005, more than 70 of the world's leading experts on human aging, life enhancement, and life extension presented the latest breakthroughs in their areas of expertise:

~ In Saturday's Keynote Lecture, "How the Longevity Revolution Will Transform Our Lives," psychologist, gerontologist, and author Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., captivated the audience to think anew about "old age"
~ Best-selling author John Gray, Ph.D., presenting Sunday's Keynote Lecture, "Stress and Poor Diet Affect Relationships," received a standing ovation from the audience
~ Professor Aw Tar Choon, M.D., Ph.D. from the National University of Singapore Medical School presented the latest breakthroughs on stem cell therapeutics in his lecture on "Stem Cell Research and Clinical Applications"
~ Eugene Shippen, M.D., best-selling author of The Testosterone Syndrome, spoke on the subject of "Hormone Relationships to Diseases of Aging"; in the post-lecture Q&A area, delegates were eager to learn more

The XIII Annual International Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine's Winter 2005 Session was co-sponsored by The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M; www.worldhealth.net), the academic leader in a worldwide movement in life enhancement and life extention that impacts more than 50,000 physicians in 80 countries. The A4M is a non-profit medical society dedicated to the advancement of technology to detect, prevent, and treat aging related disease and to promote research into methods to retard and optimize the human aging process. A4M is also dedicated to educating physicians, scientists, and members of the public on biomedical sciences, breaking technologies, and anti-aging issues. A4M seeks to disseminate information concerning innovative science and research as well as treatment modalities designed to prolong the human lifespan.

The XIII Annual International Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine Winter 2005 Session offered up to 51 hours of Category 1 AMA/PRA Credits focusing on scientific educational programming in some of the most promising arenas of preventive medicine, including:
~ Stem cell therapeutics and regenerative medicine
~ Laser surgery, skin resurfacing, fillers, and other facets of aesthetic medicine
~ Biomarkers of aging
~ Obesity and medical weight management
~ Cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment
~ Hormone replacement therapy
~ Vitamin therapies
~ Cognitive testing and maintenance of mental performance

Comments Dr. Ronald Klatz, A4M founder and President: "Annually, the Winter Session of the A4M's Anti-Aging Scientific Program consistently and regularly draws not only world-renowned faculty, but high-caliber delegates as well, making for a unique combination of excellence among all attendees that optimizes this forum for educational exchange." Adds Dr. Robert Goldman, A4M Chairman: "This is the largest event of its kind. As a group, these 5,000 participants represent the most innovative pioneers in advancements in life enhancement and life extension medicine around the world."

Awards were presented to two distinguished recipients in recognition of their outstanding contributions in their fields of expertise:
~ Presentation of the Infinity Award, the A4M's highest honor, to Dr. Ken Dychtwald, whose achievement, devotion, and foresight have helped to advance a new perspective on the notion of "aging," by Dr. Ronald Klatz, A4M President and Dr. Robert Goldman, A4M Chairman
~ Presentation of the Lifetime Health and Fitness Award to Mr. Augie Nieto by Dr. Robert Goldman, A4M Chairman

Today's mature adults control more than $7 trillion in wealth in the United States[Harvard Business Review, March 2004], or 70% of all US wealth. Further, they bring in $2 trillion in annual income and account for 50% of all discretionary spending." [Associated Press, March 7, 2004]. At the co-located Las Vegas Anti-Aging Exposition, more than 400 corporate booths displayed the latest technologies from the medical and biotech market aimed at improving and/or extending the human lifespan. The United States market for anti-aging products and services exceeds $45.5 billion (2004). Growing at an average annual growth rate of 9.5%, this market will reach nearly $72 billion by 2009. [Business Communications Company, Inc., February 2005. Companies with products and services in the $7.7 billion appearance products and services market also were represented.

Future Imperative