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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.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Regenerative Medicine -- What Will They Grow Back Next...

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The New York Times reports that some scientists are now exploring whether human beings could utilize the same regenerative properties found in certain animals... the ability, for example, to grow back lost organs or limbs. The Times notes:
Many species, notably amphibians and certain fish, can regenerate a wide variety of their body parts. The salamander can regenerate its limbs, its tail, its upper and lower jaws, the lens and the retina of its eye, and its intestine. The zebra fish will regrow fins, scales, spinal cord and part of its heart.

Mammals, too, can renew damaged parts of their body. All can regenerate the liver. Deer regrow their antlers, some at the rate of 2 centimeters a day, said to be the fastest rate of organ growth in animals. In many of these cases, regeneration begins when the mature cells at the site of a wound start to revert to an immature state. The clump of immature cells, known as a blastema, then regrows the missing part, perhaps by tapping into the embryogenesis program that first formed the animal.


I suspect this is one of those augmentations which will look a lot bigger in hindsight. No, it doesn't have anything to do with increasing human intelligence -- directly. But the ability to recover from almost any wound, coupled with a process that will likely encourage further longevity breakthroughs as well as vastly greater productivity from many recipients -- these enhancements could also have a profound impact on human affairs (and for that matter, what it means to be human). We often forget how central our health and our energy levels are to whatever we're trying to accomplish. Or at least we forget until they desert us.

These "bottlenecks" in human performance may not be glamorous, but obviously they're factors that need to be addressed. How ironic it is that this particular problem may be cleared up by people who may not be interested in human enhancement at all.

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Future Imperative

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