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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.

Friday, January 19, 2007

New Scientist Announces DCA May Completely Cure "Most Forms of Cancer"

This is an article written by a personal friend, Dr. Win Wenger. His point below about getting DCA approved in human trials for this particular use is well taken -- might I suggest a quick call to the Gate's Foundation?


Gentlepersons, it looks like the real thing this time - curing "most forms of cancer:" ordinary dichloroacetate (DCA), as announced last night in New Scientist (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn10971?DCMP=NLC-nletter&nsref=dn10971 )

DCA has reportedly been used for decades to treat rare metabolic disorders and so is known to be safe to use in humans. That's the good news. The bad news is that because patents on it have long since expired, no one has the financial incentive to sponsor the expensive large clinical trials on humans which are required to make it legal to use the drug, and consequently no one has shown an interest in such trials.

"Evangelos Michelakis of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and his colleagues tested DCA on human cells cultured outside the body and found that it killed lung, breast and brain cancer cells, but not healthy cells. Tumours in rats deliberately infected with human cancer also shrank drastically when they were fed DCA-laced water for several weeks."

The explanation given is that where normal cells metabolize their energy through the mitochrondria, cells in the center of tumors become starved for oxygen and switch to an inefficient metabolic process called glycolysis, involving the whole cell. This glycolysis process triggers and drives the cancer, also helps break down the collagen which binds cells in place and so induces metastasis. Glycolysis also, as it switches off the mitochondria, also switches off the apoptosis which limits the reproduction of cells and which normally commands abnormal and damaged cells to wither and die. Dichloroacetate or DCA restores the functions of the mitochondria, including apoptosis; the cancer cells then wither and die; healthy cells continue as before.

Reportedly, this treatment is effective for "most forms of cancer." We appear to be looking here not just at "remission" but literal cure.

And you aren't allowed to have any, and your doctor isn't allowed to write you a prescription that would let you use it on cancer, though the drug has long proven to be harmless. And no drug company will touch it: large clinical trials are expensive, the drug is cheap and unpatentable. Someone quick: start a foundation specifically for the purpose of sponsoring those clinical trials!

Note: even if such trials were underway today, which they aren't and won't be, it'd still be ten or more years before it would be legal to cure cancer with DCA. I definitely do not object to the need to test things: I do object to the medical science system being so very broken that no one can fix it even when we are staring at an apparently demonstrated actual cure for cancer. Is this going to be another one of those things where dying patients are going to have to go to Mexico or Canada or the Caribbean to be given a chance to live? Does anyone have any suggestions for remedying the situation?

Also note: this discovery in Edmonton also catches me by surprise. I had been expecting medical science to eventually, though somewhat grudgingly, dish up an answer to cancer in terms of one form or another of immunotherapy - just in time, several decades hence, to head off or compete with another treatment involving nanobytes. But here we are, decades ahead of that and potentially saving many lives, if we can figure out a way past the cost dysincentives involved with a cheap, safe, effective drug. ...win

Bio, Soc
Future Imperative

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Breakpoint -- a Possible Breakthrough...

In what will no doubt be one of the most widely read popular books featuring transhumanism, Richard Clarke (formerly the U.S. counter-terrorism czar) discusses a clash between terrorists determinted to stop transhumanist research and -- well -- a world ill-equipped to stop them. His book, Breakpoint, could be described as follows (on a dust jacket, say...):

In Against All Enemies, Richard Clarke warned about how we were conducting the war against terror. In his bestselling first novel, The Scorpion's Gate, he demonstrated what could happen. And now, in Breakpoint, America's preeminent counterterrorism expert and #1 bestselling author shows us all what might come next.

The global village--an intricately intertwined network of technology that binds together the world's economies, governments, and communication systems. So large, so vital--and so fragile. Now a sophisticated group is seeking to "disconnect the globe"--destroying computer grids, communications satellites, Internet cable centers, biotech firms. Hard to do? If only that were so.

Quickly, a dedicated team of men and women assembles to try to track the group down, searching through right-wing militias and Russian organized crime, Jihadist terrorists and enemy nation-states. But the attacks are coming more swiftly now, and growing in destructiveness. Soon, they will reach the breakpoint--and then there may be nothing anybody can do.


Reviewers everywhere praised the suspense and pace of The Scorpion's Gate, the vivid depictions of war, espionage, and bureaucracy, but most of all they hailed its authenticity. "Unlike most novelists, the man has been there and done that," said The New York Times Book Review. "Some of us," added The Washington Post, "have learned to listen when Richard A. Clarke has something to say." And we'd better hope they're listening now.

Clarke himself describes the gist of the novel, and the stakes that are at play in his story (and, some might say, in the real world) in this video clip.

He also explains why "sometimes you can tell more truth through fiction."

Given that Richard Clarke just promoted his book on the Colbert Report, we can safely assume this novel will make a bit of a splash and, more importantly, get some of the issues of human augmentation, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence and so forth out before the larger public. Instead of remaining the playthings of tech enthusiasts and various bio-conservatives and neo-Luddites. I believe the quality of these debates can only benefit from greater and deeper public awareness.

You can get a copy of Breakpoint on Amazon.

AI, Bio, Cyber, Nano, Soc
Future Imperative