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Category Archives: Futurism
The International Space Station is about to get some unusually strong visitors.
On Saturday, a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to deliver 2,585 kilograms (5,700 pounds) worth of cargo to the ISS. Amongst the supplies and equipment will be a few extremely muscular mighty mice and they could help ensure future astronauts stay healthy while in space.
For the Rodent Research-19 experiment, scientists on Earth genetically engineered mice to lack myostatin, a protein that limits how much the animals muscles grow. This causes the mice to have about twice the skeletal muscle mass of normal mice.
In addition to sending those mice to the ISS, theyre also sending some micethat arent genetically altered, which astronauts will treat with an experimental drug that inhibits myostatin.
Researchers hope that sending the mice to the ISS, where theyll be subjected to the same microgravity environment as astronauts, could yield valuable insights into how myostatin targeting could prevent muscle loss in humans in space andalso on Earth.
Were also excited because we think that this could have applications for many many conditions that people experience here back on Earth in which muscle and bone loss is a serious problem, researcher Se-Jin Lee said in an ISS video.
READ MORE: SpaceX to Launch Beer Experiment, Mighty Mice and More for NASA Today. How to Watch [Space.com]
More on muscle loss: Scientists Want to Jack Astronauts up on Steroids
Read the original here:
SpaceX Is Sending Super-Muscular Mice to the Space Station - Futurism
NASA plans to test a new cosmic radiation-blocking vest next year by sending a pair of dummies on a trip around the Moon.
One of the main obstacles for long-term space travel is the dangerous levels of radiation from the Sun and deep space that would constantly blast astronauts. By measuring how well its new vest, StemRad, protects one of the two dummies, Space.com reports that NASA will be better prepared to once more send humans to the surface of the Moon.
The StemRad vest looks vaguely like what a dentist drapes over a patient before x-raying their mouth. Its specifically designed to shield a womans torso and block particularly-sensitive body parts like the stomach, lunges, and bone marrow,according to Space.com, but it can be adjusted to fit a mans body as well.
By strapping it onto a dummy and launching it into space, NASA will get a better idea of how to protect the woman astronauts it sends to the Moon on its planned 2024 mission, Space.com reports. While the unfortunate, unprotected dummy bears the full brunt of the cosmic rays, the other will hopefully enjoy a smooth journey thanks to its new 57-pound vest.
READ MORE: Phantom Vest-Wearing Dummies to Fly Around the Moon [Space.com]
More on cosmic radiation: European Space Agency: Radiation Will Make Mars Mission Deadly
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NASA Is Sending Dummies Around the Moon to Test Cosmic Radiation - Futurism
Futurist Ray Hammond talks to Stephen Hyamsabout revolutions in healthcare, the future of work and cryptocurrencies
05 DECEMBER 2019 | STEPHEN HYAMS
Ray Hammond has a long record of accurate foresight about the future, such as identifying the coming importance of the internet shortly after its launch.
How did he become a futurist?
It happened by accident, he says. After finishing with journalism, I wanted to become a writer. During a small book tour in San Diego, I met the well-respected futurist Alvin Toffler. We kept in touch and he encouraged me to broaden out beyond technology, which was then my focus, to understand the way that todays trends may shape reality in 10 to 20 years time.
The future of health
Hammond is excited by the current revolutions in healthcare, of which he expects digital health to havethe earliest impact. Within 10 to 15 years, perhaps30% of hospital inpatients will be at home in bed but monitored so thoroughly that its almost as if they were in the hospital, he says. A team of mobile nurses will take care of their physical needs. Its also going to have a profound impact on the way drugs are developed, because drug companies can use the data that flows back from digital devices to learn how were responding. Eventually, it will be as if every patient is taking part in a real-time clinical experiment.
DNA-based and stem cell medicine will also play a significant role during the next five to 10 years. For privacy reasons, it will take a while for people to accept having their DNA stored., says Hammond. For many people, DNA stands for do not ask. Once the benefits of DNA analysis are understood fully, the word will spread and, with full consideration for privacy and data protection, DNA-based medicine will be an enormously powerful tool. He cites the detection of genetic abnormalities in the earliest stages of embryonic development during pregnancy as an example.
Its early days for stem cell medicine, but Hammond predicts that it will become very important within 10 years. It seems to have so many applications, a bit like penicillin, and promises to deal with lots of diseases that are currently intractable. Using stem cells from ones own body avoids the risk of rejection. Im certain that in 10 years time we will be taking organs off the shelf, or theyll be grown to order for us.
Hammond believes two other healthcare revolutions will have longer-term implications. The first is nanoscale medicine, which he believes will have a huge impact, but not for another 20 years. Manipulating molecules at the nanoscale level will enable the production of drugs designed to produce specific proteins that are tailored for certain illnesses. Nanoparticles are currently being developed for the targeted delivery of drugs, while there is some research involving nanoparticles that seeks to develop a vaccine for influenza. Hammond believes the other healthcare revolution will be in gene editing to enable removal of damaging pieces of DNA from a patients tissue but care is needed to avoid it affecting the germline, for fear of unintended consequences.
What will be the collective impact of these developments? During the next 20 to 30 years they will transform healthcare, and I think it is likely we will see a return to higher rates of mortality improvements in the UK, following the period of lower rates seen during the past few years.
Hammond is excited by two recent pieces of research into anti-ageing, one of which removes senescent cells from the body. These cells are widely believed to contribute to ageing. The other work involves therapyto reprogram genes to reverse the ageing process.
In human trials, there have been some startling achievements in a single year, 70% to 80% of the patients had their biological clock reversed by two and a half years, he says. The results were so stunning that the researchers have easily been able to raise the money to carry out much wider trials. Until a year ago, I was highly sceptical about rejuvenation and life extension, but not any longer. By 2030 or 2040 I think we could see some patients extending their lives as healthy centenarians. Within the next 20-30 years, Hammond also thinks that most types of cancer will be controllable, as opposed to being cured.
How can we meet the cost of healthcare for an ageing population? During the next 10 years it will be a problem, but there are indications that things will improve significantly, mostly thanks to digital technology, says Hammond. The key is 5G networks, which will be super-fast and reliable, with instant, real-time responses and no bandwidth problems. This will facilitate distributed care, in which many patients are monitored from their homes, thereby taking the pressure off hospital space. The healthcare revolutions will mean fewer people in hospital, and for less time.
The collection and analysis of healthcare data is developing fast, and it must remain secure for people to remain comfortable in providing it. Could insurers seek to use the data for underwriting purposes? There are currently legal barriers to the discriminatory use by insurers of DNA information, while they are also no longer allowed to ask the catch-all question of whether there is any other information that would be relevant.
Digital monitoring devices will not be for everyone, while those who do use them will need clear instructions explaining that they are not fully accurate and no substitute for proper medical advice.
Robotics will have developed to the point where most of the non-medical tasks in a hospital are handled by machines, Hammond says. For example, a robot nurse in triage could perform standard tests before passing the patient to a doctor, if necessary. Remote robotic surgery will also become very efficient oneeye specialist in London might be treating people anywhere in the UK, or around the world. Another interesting development is the growing use of virtual reality as an alternative to conventional anaesthetic.
Technology and work
Will robotics and automation put jobs at risk? During the next 15 years, there will be a lot of disruption in the workplace, says Hammond. Peoples roles will change, and retraining will be needed, but there will still be a lot of demand for human employment. After that period, Im not so sure; by the mid-2030s I think robots will be so ubiquitous, powerful and capable that a lot of human endeavour will not be needed. Robots will be increasing productivity to such an extent that society will have enough money to give to people who are not employed.
Such a fundamental change brings challenges, though. For many people, work is part of their identity, and when theyre denied it an important part of their life disappears, Hammond says. I dont have the answerto that, but Im worried.
Part of the solution is to recognise and pay for carers in the family, and Hammond predicts there will still be plenty of demand here. Robots will empathise and form attachments, but when real help or comfort is needed,I think well want a human for the foreseeable future.
I ask about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI)on replacing human work. Today AI is, at best, as intelligent as a rodent. I think it will be at least 30 years before AI is a threat to humanity in terms of its decision-making capabilities.
Cryptocurrencies and cash
Hammond expects blockchain technology, invented for the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, to have a huge and wide-ranging impact. Blockchain will be everywhere for example, managing patients in hospitals, or the assets and policies of an insurance company. The biggest drawback is its high energy demand, but there have been recent breakthroughs in that respect.
Cryptocurrencies do not need an issuing bank or government to authenticate them, as they are self-authenticating, so this poses a threat to the conventional banking industry and national sovereignty over finance, he continues. I dont see it happening on a big scale within 10 years, but in the longer term, if political will allows, there is no doubt that cryptocurrencies will replace fiat currencies.
Does this signal the end of cash? In my 1983 book Computers and Your Child I predicted there would be no cash in society by the year 2000, Hammond says.I was looking at the technology, and in that respect my prediction could have been correct, but I was forgetting human psychology. People like to feel they hold cash.I think cash will still be around in 10-15 years, but very much reduced.
I conclude by asking Hammond what his biggest concern for the future is. Climate change, with the extreme weather events that are going to become more frequent and severe and continue for at least the next30-40 years.
What excites him the most? The continuing improvement in human health. I love the idea of looking to a future where most serious illness is eradicated, with far less human suffering.
Interview: Shaping the future - The Actuary
In February 1909, a strange new manifestoappeared, first in the Bologna-based Italian- language newspaper Gazzetta dell Emiliana, and then inFrench in Le Figaro. Readers ofthe declaration might have struggled to work out whether the manifesto waspolitical or aesthetic in character. In the past, the celebrated manifestos hadbeen political: the Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels,for example, published in 1848, or Anselm Bellegarrigues Anarchist Manifestoof 1850. Yet this piece of work seemed to blend political and aestheticsentiments: The essential elements of our poetry, it read, will be courage,audacity and revolt.
The manifesto also explicitly glorified war the only cure for the world militarism, patriotism the beautiful ideaswhich kill. In our own time, there has been much discussion around the ways inwhich incendiary language creates a dangerous political atmosphere. What canwe learn from turning to an earlier period in modern history?
The 1909 declaration was the founding Manifesto of Futurism, and its author was an eccentric, Egyptian-born Italian writer, artist and political radical Filippo Tommasso Marinetti. Marinetti would go on to promote fascism, and the art of the Futurists with its obsession with speed, technology and, increasingly, military power would be close to one of the official styles of the fascist revolution. The attitude of the Futurist Manifesto, a piece of writing that emerged long before the seizure of power by the Fascists in Italy in 1922, is an extreme example of a phenomenon which is very much with us now. What is the connection between rhetorical and actual violence? When do angry words become violent actions, and how should they be resisted?
The manifesto of 1909 was not the only typeof document circulating Europe in this time period that extolled violence, ofcourse, and not all of these types of rhetoric are linked to what we would nowcall the radical right. Yet the manifesto seems unique in the extreme,extravagant and performative nature of its language. It seems intentionally togoad its readers, promoting an aggressive misogyny We want to glorify contempt for women, it states and a joy in destruction for its own sake.
We want, writes Marinetti, to demolishmuseums and libraries, fight morality, feminism and all opportunist andutilitarian cowardice. The manifesto is littered with references to violence,war and destruction. It was a manifesto of ruinous and incendiary violence, whichwanted to heap up the fire to the shelves of the libraries, because art canonly be violence, cruelty, injustice.
If such extremist language cannot beshown to have had a direct impact on thesquadristi violence of fascism in the 1920s and the violence of the NationalFascist Party regime in power at home and abroad, Marinetti certainly cheeredon fascist imperialism and was always a consistently pro-military figure.Indeed, the Futurists had initially agitated for Italy to enter the First WorldWar in 1914. By the time of Marinettis death in 1944, the writer and artistwas creating eulogies to Italian fighting units and remained loyal to the fascistcause, even as represented by the Nazi-backed puppet state of the RepubblicaSociale Italiana.
In 1945, the fascist-supporting American poet Ezra Pound placed the ghost of the recently-deceased Marinetti in his Canto 72, promising retribution for the defeat of the Axis powers at the battle of El Alamein. In this context, the relation of violent language to actual violence is complex and layered. Futurist and fascist agitators glorified war and violence at the same time as the street fighting and, later, imperialist wars of fascism, played out in the real world.
Cause and effect cannot be straightforwardly demonstrated here. Yet language surely creates a context in which violent acts may become increasingly commonplace. In contemporary Britain, the fevered atmosphere around Brexit has similarly given birth to a situation in which angry words and incendiary language are paralleled with a rise in radical-right street action. Prime Minister Boris Johnson dismissed concerns raised in the House of Commons by the Labour MP Paula Sherriff that his rhetoric would or could fuel violence as so much humbug.
In the prime ministers mind, terms like surrender, used to describe the Brexit Withdrawal Bill designed by the opposition and rebel Conservative MPs to prevent a no-deal Brexit, are simply his usual colorful rhetoric. But Johnson is now supported by radical-right actors like the self-styled Tommy Robinson / Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, founder of the English Defence League. We back Boris, Yaxley-Lennon wrote at the beginning of September, referring repeatedly to those who opposed the prime minister as traitors.
Death to traitors, freedom for Britain, was famously what Thomas Mair, the murderer of the Labour MP Jo Cox, had shouted when asked his name during his court trial. The link between the prime ministers rhetoric along other leaders of the pro-Brexit mainstream right and radical-right violence is not a question of a smoking gun or a straightforward case of cause and effect. Rather, the use of violent language causes an atmosphere where sentiments emerging from supposedly responsible politicians are mirrored back to them by the agitators of the radical right.
Florid, excessive language that hints at violence then often incites a more shocking response from its listeners. For example, at an event at the Conservative Party conference, Boris Johnson suggested that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn be removed and placed in a figurative rocket to send him into orbit. But Johnsons words a cartoonish vision with an attempt at humor were interrupted by voices from the Tory activists on the floor, who suggested Corbyn be put in a noose and sent to traitors gate in a reference to the prisoners entrance to the Tower of London.
In this context, Johnsons jokey rhetoric was reflected back to him in words that seemed to suggest a far more visceral and violent reaction to opposition politicians. In particular, the repeated use of the word traitor in the rhetoric of both radical-right thugs like Yaxley-Lennon, murderers like Mair and the activists of a supposedly mainstream UK political party is disturbing.
If there is not always a direct linkbetween words and violence, there is nonetheless a sense that violent languageincites, creating an effect of heightened tension, enabling its selectaudiences to delight in the prospect of destruction and battle. The philosopherThorsten Botz-Borstein has compared the aesthetics of Italian Futurism to thatof the so-called Islamic State. For Botz-Borstein, the nihilism at the heart ofboth projects exalts in the prospect of violent destruction, particularlythrough the use of technology.
This is by no means to compare the language of Boris Johnson and other politicians with the Islamic State. However, violent language even language that only gestures toward violence creates its own effects, its own momentum, which it cannot always control. In the 1935 The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, the German critic Walter Benjamin described fascism as a product of a self-alienation that had reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order.
We must avoid the temptation of thinkingthat language is overstating political desires, that nobody really wants the kind of violence orchaos being gestured to. For this underestimates the power the aestheticpower of language to create or encourage these desires in its listeners.
*[The Centre for Analysis of the Radical Rightis a partner institution ofFair Observer.]
Theviews expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarilyreflect Fair Observers editorial policy.