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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.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Wrinkle Here, a Wrinkle There -- A Slow-Motion Health Revolution in the Offing?

Jill Hudson Neal writes an article on Botox "upkeep" for mothers that illustrates the slow creep of human enhancement technology -- and more important, the acceptance of human enhancement in general -- in American society. She begins with a casual meeting with a friend -- a 37-year-old working mother of three who had recently been given a Botox treatment as a gift.

It could have been the wine talking, but I swear I could actually detect a real difference on her face -- and it wasn't just the smooth, wrinkle-free brow framed by newly highlighted hair and soft, flattering make-up. It's not that there were plenty of wrinkles on her face too begin with, but it seemed some of the exhaustion that parks itself around the eyes and between the eyebrows of so many mothers -- especially those with small kids -- had been wiped out.

It got me thinking: If you feel 28 but look 42 (as so many of us do), what's the harm in keeping your syringe-wielding dermatologist on speed dial? Sure, Botox is pricey ($300 to $600 per shot) and carries certain health risks (it is made from botulinum toxin, after all) -- but is that a small price to pay to look younger and more energetic? Could Botox be a hip mom's secret weapon?

Actually, the comment that most stood out to me above was "If you feel 28 but look 42..." Cosmetics and surface treatments for wrinkles have obviously become more and more acceptable in recent years. But other aspects of human beauty such as muscle tone and development and weight management are obviously at least as critical to your appearance as the condition of your skin.

So as we become more and more accustomed to radical interventions going on outside our bodies -- Botox injections, nanoparticles in cosmetics, the scouring of our pores and even minor surgical procedures -- we can expect people to become much more interested in ways of transforming their basic health, the basis of truly vital human being.

And we can also expect these interventions not only to grow more powerful, but also more subtle. There are a great many people who are getting Botox injections who would prefer to never get a facelift. And there are plenty of people who are using wrinkle-reducing creams (sometimes including nanoparticles found critical for such substances) who are leary of the botulinum toxin in Botox. We can likewise expect people who are leary of liposuction to embrace calorie burning soft drinks (see Enviga), supplements designed for enhanced metabolism or muscle growth, or even powerful drugs.

Ironically, this shift in public consciousness is one of the hardest things to gauge, yet one of the most important factors in the rate at which human enhancement of all kinds becomes not only acceptable, but a major industry and scientific research goal in the U.S., and worldwide.

Bio, Soc
Future Imperative