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Category Archives: Transhuman
Tony Stark's Iron Man armor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe underwent various upgrades since the character first appeared in 2008'sIron Man.Thankfully, one of those upgrades wasn't to Stark's Bleeding Edge armor - one of the grossest and coolest armors Iron Man has worn in the comics.
Iron Man's Bleeding Edge Armor first appeared inThe Invincible Iron Man #25by Matt Fraction and Ryan Meinerding. The armor isn't external like Tony's past suits, it's internal. It's stored inside Stark's body using nanotechnology to form a suit from inside of him. Stark essentially made himself transhuman, commanding the armor mentally. It would spawn from his body and mold onto his skin. There was no need to carry a suit around, as he could activate it whenever he needed it.
RELATED:All The Clues To Iron Man's Death In Avengers: Endgame
Stark's Bleeding Edge armor is extremely powerful. It could self-repair when damaged, was practically invulnerable, and could be restored in seconds when destroyed. Stark literally made the suit a part of his body. His transformation when wearing the suit was incredibly cool, but also disgustingly gross. You can see the nanites take over and graft the suit onto his body.
It is pretty easy to see why Robert Downey Jr. didn't sport an exact version of the armor during his time as Iron Man in the MCU. It simply was too gross to include in its comic form. The Bleeding Edge armor would have traumatized kids and watchers alike. The transformation is neat and cutting edge, but there was no real reason to have Tony Stark go full transhuman. It would be unnecessary body horror, and just wouldn't fit the tone of the films. Instead, giving him an advanced suit, like theMark LXXXV, that could be summoned when needed was a much better choice.
The Bleeding Edge armor lasted a couple of years before Stark retired from being Iron Man in 2012. In theLong Way Downarc, Tony undergoes a surgical procedure that removes the Bleeding Edge technology from his body - making him fully human once again. Most recently, Stark's armor became even more disturbing.
It is very Tony Stark of him to design a suit that was stored and enabled from his own body. Stark is a genius who loves to take risks. By implementing the Bleeding Edge armor into his own body, he was doing what he does best, testing his own limits in order to be a better hero. It was a noble move, but we're glad it stayed in the comics - even if the Bleeding Armor was one of the coolest suits Iron Man has ever worn. His MCU suit-upsshould be epic, not disgusting.
MORE:Iron Man's Parents Just Came Back To Life (in Comics)
Could Marvel's Most Dangerous Alien BROOD Come To The MCU?
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Meet the Microchipped Transhumanist Cyborg Whos Running Against Trump in the 2020 GOP Primary – Mediaite
Zoltan Istvan, a transhumanist journalist, is running for the U.S. presidency as a Republican in 2020, challenging President Donald Trump in the primary.
Istvan, who also ran for president in 2016 on a lesser scale, has written for The New York Times, Vice, and National Geographic, and describes himself as the founder of the Transhumanist Party, the original author of the Transhumanist Bill of Rights, and a frequently interviewed expert on AI, genetic editing, tech policy, and futurism.
His campaign policies for 2020 range from the relatively normal to the quite absurd, from ending the drug war, beating China in the artificial intelligence race, restoring the environment, and providing universal basic income for all, to the development of artificial wombs, nearly open borders, stopping mass shootings and terrorism with drones, robots, AI scanners, and other technology, and licensing parents, or as Istvan explained, requiring prospective parents to pass a series of basic tests, similar to a DMV driving test, to quality and get the green light to get pregnant and raise children.
As a passionate transhumanist (or, as philosopher Max More explains, someone who supports the evolution of intelligent life beyond its currently human form and human limitations by means of science and technology), reportedly with a microchip in his hand that allows him to open doors and use his phone, Istvan also wants the Republican Party to reclaim transhumanism from the far-left.
This week, Mediaite got the opportunity to talk with Istvan about his 2020 campaign and the policies within.
Your campaign policies are very interesting. Typical libertarian policies mixed with some quite out-there stuff like artificial wombs, nearly open borders, and stopping borders with drones. What was the inspiration behind such an odd variety of campaign focuses?
I was busted for dealing marijuana I guess maybe 26 years ago, where I was convicted of a felony conviction for distribution of narcotics, which also made me highly libertarian kind of from the start of my adult years. And then as I went through the National Geographic days I began to try to think about what would be better policy so we didnt get in these wars all the time and the government sort of left us alone. But at the same time, its not that I want to be left alone entirely. I think there should be some safety nets.
If you look through some of my 2020 plans youll see theres a lot of liberalism built into it, so it kind of tries to take the very best parts from all the different ideologies that are out there and put it in one. To be honest, I just dont understand why there cant be conservative people like myself who are totally socially liberal, and while thats classic libertarianism, the reality is that the Libertarian Party just doesnt have enough connections, money, and all these other things to run campaigns that can actually win office, which is ultimately why Im now with the Republicans trying to make a difference, trying to get people that might be fiscally conservative to have some sensibility when it comes to being more open-minded.
You say on your campaign website that youre trying to reclaim transhumanism from the far-left. What do you mean by that?
Thats probably my number one policy goal right now, and its because whats happened recently, at least in the last four or five years, is it seems like transhumanism has been growing dramatically. Im excited about that, but its also growing dramatically to the left, and if it continues to grow and grow in that direction it means that it will be almost this socialist dystopia, in my opinion, where everyone thinks they own everything and they can just do what they want.
Innovation, capitalism and Im saying this from an entrepreneur of twenty years it requires free markets in many ways to come up with these creative ideas in the first place. We all love going to Europe. We all love the quasi-socialism that they have there when were there. But Europe hasnt really created anything innovative in fifty years. I mean not much when you compare to, lets say, America. We want to be careful that in order for transhumanism to survive, it doesnt fall into the hands of the new breed of socialists that America is contending with. Silicon Valley is going that direction, Ive been watching that happen over the last ten years, and so I thought it was finally time somebody stood up and said, Wait a second, we need a better balance here. We need a balance of people who are willing to innovate in libertarian-minded economical ideals without bowing down to the far left.
So do you think transhumanism would die out if we did end up with a socialist society?
No. I dont think it would die out. I just think so you gotta understand the number one goal of transhumanism is really to try to overcome biological death by finding technology. And really, what happens when you put socialism into medicine and some of these other things, innovation dramatically stops. So somebody like myself whos 46-years-old, and of course all the other older people that have been involved in the movement forever, if innovation and science and all that other stuff stopped just even for ten or fifteen years, or doesnt go as fast as it is, a huge amount of extra people wont make it to this new generation where well have all these different techniques to keep people alive.
So theres actually a race going on. A race to keep transhumanism in kind of this capitalistic, libertarian somewhat framework so that innovation continues to move forward and that people like myself will have a chance in thirty years to actually benefit from these life extension medications and innovations that come out.
If we are able to overcome death with science by 2030 versus the year 2050, over one billion lives will be saved. So the meaning here is incredibly important, which is why Im very cautious about socialists being in charge.
Are you not worried that we could end up with a Fallout: New Vegas Mr. House situation, where you have a really really rich guy, or a bunch of rich people who are practically living forever, while no one else can get access to this technology?
That is one of my number one fears.
First of all, from a transhumanist perspective, if everyone lives forever, were going to have overpopulation problems, and I already believe we have overpopulation problems. You can see the climate changing and things like that.
But I think the other one is, whats to keep the Mark Zuckerbergs and the other people of the world from taking this radical technology, using it on themselves, and leaving the rest of us behind? This is where I lose a little bit of my libertarianism, and all the libertarians get mad at me. I actually think under these circumstances there should be some government mandate when it comes to healthcare, when it comes to different types of rights to life extension. That we should all have some type of a universal right to life extension and some of these medicines, even it requires government grants and things like that, because the very last thing that I want to do is create a world where only the one percent has access to these technologies, or even beyond the one percent, and the rest of the people get left behind in some kind of dystopia.
So, this is where I kind of break down and say a little bit of big government is fine, especially if its going to protect and make sure everyone has benefits to this new future that were talking about: the Transhumanist Age.
Do you think there are already some minor life extension schemes going on in the one percent?
I dont believe that theres a conspiracy going on with the one percent, because if it is, I havent heard about it. There are companies like Human Longevity. They cater only to the very wealthy But its not that they dont cater to the super poor, its just that their prices are expensive and theyre not covered by insurance, so only the very wealthy use them.
I would be very surprised if even someone like Peter Thiel has a very strict regiment of kind of undercover, secretive longevity people. I think were all working on this together. We realize the humanitarian aspects of making us all live longer. The person who could come up with the magic pill, or 3D-printing organs, however were going to keep ourselves alive longer, I think not only is it the most important capitalistic thing someones going to become a trillionaire off these kinds of innovations but I also think theres a very deep humanitarian aspect to share with your family, your friends. So I dont think people are hording this technology. I just dont think weve come up with the right technologies yet.
But if you look at the statistics, five years ago this was maybe a one or two billion dollar industry when you talk about longevity, and Bank of America recently said its going to be a 600 billion industry by 2025. I mean it is skyrocketing in terms of venture capital and investment. A lot of money is coming into it, so I hope by now in the next two to five years youre going to have a lot more innovation and announcement.
It seems like youre putting up more of a fight this primary to beat President Trump. Last election you put up a fight, but you werent listed on the ballots, whereas this time youre going to be listed on some the ballots, right?
Yeah, were going to be on basically all the ballots we can be until Super Tuesday, and were going to see how we do. Were spending a lot of our funding for ballot access right now, but thats okay. What happened is the first time around, I had some unique ideas. Of course, I had been a writer for a lot of major media, and so people listened and they liked those ideas, but for the Transhumanist Party as an independent, you really cant make any ground unless you have ballot access.
Were hoping that if we do well in New Hampshire, and were hoping that if we do well in Iowa, maybe get a few delegates here, then we could all of a sudden take it to the next level and make a real push to try to compete against Trump.
Id be lying to you if I said, Look, I think were going to win this thing. Thats not really what were trying to do. What were trying to do is get the attention of the Republican Party and say, Isnt it time there could be a new way of looking at things? Does it always have to be fiscally conservative and also conservative moral values? Why doesnt the Republican Party open itself up to socially liberal values? They would make a lot more room for people like myself who fit right there in the middle. Who dont want to necessarily give up all their money to the government, but also want to say to people, Hey you can do exactly what you want to do with your body. This is something that I dont think the Republican Party has had yet from any kind of public figure or anyone whos run a real viable campaign.
If you could address Republican voters right now with a short statement, what would you say?
The premise here with Trump is that we were promised greatness, and that sounded kind of neat in the beginning, and I was excited not to have an attorney at the top of the chain of command in America, but it turns out that Trump didnt really deliver that.
All we have are these squabbles in America. It seems like peoples views are just attacking each other. I really think its time not only just for a professional to be in the White House, but for somebody with really brand new ideas. And I dont mean empty the swamp. I mean lets fly above the swamp. Why do we even need to be in the swamp anymore? This is the kind of thing Im trying to bring.
Photo courtesy of Zoltan Istvan.
This interview has been edited and condensed for content and clarity.
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Meet the Microchipped Transhumanist Cyborg Whos Running Against Trump in the 2020 GOP Primary - Mediaite
On a recent Sunday at the Queen Anne Lutheran Church basement, parishioners sat transfixed as the Rev. Dr. Ted Peters discussed an unusual topic for an afternoon assembly: "Can technology enhance the image of God?"
Peters' discussion focused on a relatively new philosophical movement. Its followers believe humans will transcend their physical and mental limitations with wearable and implantable devices.
The movement, called transhumanism, claims that in the future, humans will be smarter and stronger and may even overcome aging and death through developments in fields such as biotechnology and artificial intelligence (AI).
"What does it mean to be truly human?" Peters asked in a voice that boomed throughout the church basement, in a city that boasts one of the world's largest tech hubs. The visiting reverend urged the 30 congregants in attendance to consider the question during a time when "being human sounds optional to some people."
"It's sad; it makes me feel a lot of grief," a congregant said, shaking her head in disappointment.
Organized religions have long served as an outlet for humans to explore existential questions about their place in the universe, the nature of consciousness and free will. But as AI blurs the lines between the digital and physical worlds, fundamental beliefs about the essence of humanity are now called into question.
While public discourse around advanced technologies has mostly focused on changes in the workforce and surveillance, religious followers say the deeper implications of AI could be soul-shifting.
It doesn't surprise James Wellman, a University of Washington professor and chair of the Comparative Religion Program, that people of faith are interested in AI. Religious observers place their faith in an invisible agent known as God, whom they perceive as benevolent and helpful in their lives. The use of technology evokes a similar phenomenon, such as Apple's voice assistant Siri, who listens and responds to them.
"That sounds an awful lot like what people do when they think about religion," Wellman said.
CONFRONTING AI AND FAITH
When Dr. Daniel Peterson became the pastor of the Queen Anne Lutheran Church three years ago, he hoped to explore issues meaningful both to his congregants and to secular people.
Peterson's fascination with AI, as a lifelong science-fiction fan, belies skepticism in the ubiquity of technology: He's opted out of Amazon's voice assistant Alexa in his house and said he gets nervous about cameras on cellphones and computers.
He became interested in looking at AI from a "spiritual dimension" after writing an article last year about the depiction of technologies such as droids in "Star Wars" films. In Peterson's eyes, artificially intelligent machines in the films are equipped with a sense of mission that enables them to think and act like humans without needing to be preprogrammed.
His examination of AI yielded more questions than answers: "What kind of bias or brokenness are we importing in the artificial intelligence we're designing?" Peterson pondered. If AI developed consciousness, "what sort of philosophical and theological concerns does that raise?"
Peterson invited his church and surrounding community to explore these questions and more in the three-part forum called "Will AI Destroy Us?," which kicked off with a conversation held by Carissa Schoenick from the Seattle-based Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, followed by Peters' discussion on transhumanism, and concluded with Peterson's talk on his own research around AI in science-fiction films.
Held from late September to early October, the series sought to fill what Peterson called a silence among faith leaders about the rise of AI. Peterson and other religious observers are now eager to take part in a new creation story of sorts: Local initiatives held in places of worship and educational institutions are positioning Seattle as a testing ground for the intersection of AI and religion.
The discussion on transhumanism drew members of the community unaffiliated with the church, including David Brenner, the board chair of Seattle-based organization AI and Faith. The consortium membership spans across belief systems and academic institutions in an effort to bring major religions into the discussion around the ethics of AI, and how to create machines that evoke "human flourishing and avoids unnecessary, destructive problems," Brenner said in an interview at the church. As Brenner spoke, a few congregants remained in the basement to fervently chat about the symposium.
"The questions that are being presented by AI are fundamental life questions that have now become business [ones]," said Brenner, a retired lawyer. Values including human dignity, privacy, free will, equality and freedom are called into question through the development of machines.
"Should robots ever have rights, or is it like giving your refrigerator rights even if they can function just like us?" Brenner said.
AI, RELIGION AND THE WORLD
Religious leaders around the world are starting to weigh in. Last April, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission_the public-policy section of the Southern Baptist Convention published a set of guidelines on AI adoption that affirms the dominion of humans and encourages the minimization of human biases in technology. It discourages the creation of machines that take over jobs, relegating humans to "a life of leisure" devoid of work, wrote the authors.
In a speech to a Vatican conference in September, Pope Francis echoed the guidelines' sentiment by urging tech companies and diplomats to deploy AI in an ethical manner that ensures machines don't replace human workers. "If mankind's so-called technological progress were to become an enemy of the common good, this would lead to ... a form of barbarism dictated by the law of the strongest," he said, according to The Associated Press.
On the other hand, some faith perspectives have cropped up in recent years that hold AI at the center of their value systems. Former Google and Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski formed Way of the Future church in 2017 with the aim of creating a peaceful transition into an imminent world where machines surpass human capabilities. The church's website argues that human rights should be extended to machines, and that we should clear the path for technology to "take charge" as it grows in intelligence.
"We believe it may be important for machines to see who is friendly to their cause and who is not," the website warns.
But Yasmin Ali, a practicing Muslim and AI and Faith member, has seen AI used as a tool for good and bad. While Ali believes technology can make people's lives easier, she has also seen news reports and heard stories from her community about such tools being used to profile members of marginalized communities. China, for instance, has used facial-recognition technology to surveil Uighur Muslim minorities in the western region, according to a recent New York Times investigation.
"I think we need to get more diversity with the developers who provide AI, so they can get diverse thoughts and ideas into the software," Ali said. The Bellevue-based company she founded called Skillspire strives to do just that by training diverse workers in tech courses such as coding and cybersecurity.
"We have to make sure that those values of being human goes into what we're building," Ali said. "It's like teaching kids you have to be polite, disciplined."
Back at Queen Anne Lutheran, congregants expressed hope that the conversation would get the group closer to understanding and making peace with changes in society, just as churches have done for hundreds of years.
Bainbridge Island resident Monika Aring believes the rise of AI calls for an ongoing inquiry at faith-based places of worship on the role of such technologies. She shared the dismay she felt when her friend, a pastor of another congregation, said the church has largely become irrelevant.
"It mustn't be. This is the time for us to have these conversations," she said. "I think we need some kind of moral compass," one that ensures humans and the Earth continue to thrive amid the advancement of AI.
Salvjiia is a beautiful fright. The Instagram persona of Lilith Morris, she is posed in a recent post as a mutant, her eyes dark pits, her wheat-colored hair cascading to the floor, her torso fused with the fur-covered legs of a deer.
Salvjiia, 19, is part of a subculture of self-created oddities proliferating online and, more recently, leaching into the world of style.
The most baldly subversive among them, Instagram personalities with mysterious or sometimes off-putting handles like Fecal Matter, Forbidden Knowledge and Genesisfawn, are turning to prosthetics, extreme makeup, props, bodysuits and digital effects to mask or make hash of commonly held notions of what it means to be human.
If their otherworldly appearance seems familiar, the likelihood is that youve seen it in a tamer form before. Versions of this spectral look date at least from the 1970s, when David Bowie introduced Starman, his pallid alter ego, and appeared as an alien in The Man Who Fell to Earth.
In her 2011 video Born This Way, Lady Gaga took on the guise of a celestial freak haloed in broad beams of light.
Today there is Maleficent, Angelina Jolies archvillain, back just in time for Halloween, her characters steeply angled cheekbones and imposing crown of horns suggesting some demonic alien race.
Now comes fashion, intent on mining this eerie aesthetic for impact by releasing onto the runways streams of bloodless-looking models who seemed to have beamed down from Neptune or Mars.
The looks latest champion, Demna Gvasalia of Balenciaga, introduced a phalanx of these human anomalies in his spring 2020 show, all chalky complexions and vulcanized lips and with prosthetics augmenting their otherwise sunken cheeks. His intention, according to his show notes, was to play on beauty standards of today, the past and the future.
Magazines, too, have clambered on board, not least of them Vogue, which posted an online feature last year about Fecal Matter, the Instagram handle of Hannah Rose Dalton and Steven Raj Bhaskaran.
They are a Canadian couple who make liberal use of prosthetics and props to sculpt scythe-shaped shoes, Mount Rushmore cheekbones, mini-horns and other reptilian protrusions. Tentacle-like breathing tubes dangle from their mouths.
To what end? Is fashions appropriation of alien chic a celebration of a forward-looking, highly evolved form of humanity? Or is something more self-serving at work? In recent seasons, fashion, in the guise of diversity, has made a near fetish of parading black, transgender, old and plus-size models in their shows and in the case of Tommy Hilfiger, people with disabilities as well.
Have designers and marketers simply run out of ways to jolt spectators from their seats?
I never do anything for shock effect, said Carine Roitfeld, the high-profile editor of CR Fashion Book.
But her statement is at odds with a feature in the current issue that makes a deliberate spectacle of demi-bald, spectral-looking models disjunctively dressed in a bourgeois pastiche of starchy plaid skirts and blazers. Her aim, Ms. Roitfeld said, was to push cultural boundaries and start a conversation about inclusivity.
Maybe so, but there are indications that the fashion establishment may be operating from more adulterated motives. Some were hinted at, if only obliquely, by Rick Owens, who commissioned Ms. Morris (Salvjiia) to create makeup for his fall 2019 runway show and ended by introducing a succession of ghostly Salvjiia look-alikes on his catwalk.
His intent struck some as boldly progressive. But there was something glib, not to say disingenuous, in his program notes, in which he wrote that for a young generation, body modification is the new tattoo.
Such comments appear to make light of Instagram users intentions.
We always went into this knowing that people see us as a joke or click bait, Mx. Bhaskaran, 26, of Fecal Matter said. Thats why its so important for us to integrate a message more than just a look.
Part of the couples objective, Ms. Dalton, 24, said, is to confer on social outliers the trans girl, the plus-size girl in high school a sense of belonging. We want to offer a more tolerant space for anybody to explore their identity, she said.
Robert Reed, a 26-year-old designer in Brooklyn, creates second-skin costumes wearable art, he calls them with horns, masks, winged shoulders and elevator shoes in reaction to what he views as an over-stratified society. He documents his work on Instagram.
I want to be seen as an artist, not someone whos male or female, gay or straight, black or white, fat or thin, said Mr. Reed, who has collaborated with Franois Nars, Opening Ceremony and their influential like. My persona kills that conversation about gender identity. It kills race, it kills any suggestion of the human form. For me, its like being an enigma.
Such aims are more in line with those of Alessandro Michele, the creative director of Gucci, who anticipated the alien incursion more than a year ago with a spring 2018 collection modeled by anemic-looking women, their faces veiled or masked by balaclavas, some toting replicas of their own heads.
As an aesthetic, it represents, Mr. Michele suggested, a coming golden age of pan-gender, post-racial, post-sexual identity. We are in a trans-human era for sure, he said at the time of his show. We have to decide what we want to be.
Pop cultures embrace of such sci-fi extremes comes and goes. Earlier this year, FKA Twigs and ASAP Rocky collaborated on a video in which they appear as glamorous extraterrestrials flashing talons and neon-tone masks.
Lately, variations of the look have emerged on TikTok, where a stream of cosplay devotees masquerade as mutants from outer space.
The alien aesthetic has historically been most popular during extremely conservative periods, said Daniel L. Bernardi, a documentary filmmaker and a professor of cultural studies at San Francisco State University. It reflects and addresses the tensions of a divided society.
For fashion in particular, he said, it is a means of grappling with a fairly radical shift in what it means to be beautiful. I dont think anyone has identified that yet.
It may also be a way of coping with the pressures of the bottom line. Fashion is good at identifying where peoples stresses are and interested in exploiting those stresses, Dr. Bernardi said. Its ultimate aim: to get you wrapped up in an image and to buy that image.
Its an aim rejected by these Instagram mavericks. Referring in particular to Mr. Hilfigers use of models without limbs, Mr. Reed asked, Was he genuinely interested in those models or just using them to seem with it?
Others argue that the fashion establishment has encroached on their turf, reaping the benefits without the risks. Their work requires a commitment, Ms. Dalton of Fecal Matter said. She and Mx. Bhaskaran routinely take their message to the streets, shopping for produce or stopping for a latte dressed in full regalia, and as often as not exposing themselves to the taunts of strangers.
Fashion, Ms. Dalton said, trivializes that kind of audacity. What is so personal for us has now become a global trend.
The fashion community needs a trend, something they can use to sell product, to garner attention, to be different from competitors, she said. You could say that fashions just tagging along.
A Transhuman or trans-human is an intermediary form between the human and the hypothetical posthuman.
The etymology of the term "transhuman" goes back to French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin who wrote in his 1949 book The Future of Mankind: Liberty: that is to say, the chance offered to every man (by removing obstacles and placing the appropriate means at his disposal) of 'trans-humanizing' himself by developing his potentialities to the fullest extent.
And in a 1951 unpublished revision of the same book: In consequence one is the less disposed to reject as unscientific the idea that the critical point of planetary Reflection, the fruit of socialization, far from being a mere spark in the darkness, represents our passage, by Translation or dematerialization, to another sphere of the Universe: not an ending of the ultra-human but its accession to some sort of trans-humanity at the ultimate heart of things.
In 1957 book New Bottles for New Wine, English evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley wrote: The human species can, if it wishes, transcend itself not just sporadically, an individual here in one way, an individual there in another way, but in its entirety, as humanity. We need a name for this new belief. Perhaps transhumanism will serve: man remaining man, but transcending himself, by realizing new possibilities of and for his human nature. "I believe in transhumanism": once there are enough people who can truly say that, the human species will be on the threshold of a new kind of existence, as different from ours as ours is from that of Pekin man. It will at last be consciously fulfilling its real destiny. One of the first professors of futurology, FM-2030, who taught "new concepts of the Human" at The New School of New York City in the 1960s, used "transhuman" as shorthand for "transitional human". Calling transhumans the "earliest manifestation of new evolutionary beings", FM argued that signs of transhumans included physical and mental augmentations including prostheses, reconstructive surgery, intensive use of telecommunications, a cosmopolitan outlook and a globetrotting lifestyle, androgyny, mediated reproduction (such as in vitro fertilisation), absence of religious beliefs, and a rejection of traditional family values.
FM-2030 used the concept of transhuman, as an evolutionary transition, outside the confines of academia in his contributing final chapter to the 1972 anthology Woman, Year 2000. In the same year, American cryonics pioneer Robert Ettinger contributed to conceptualization of "transhumanity" in his book Man into Superman. In 1982, American artist Natasha Vita-More authored the Transhuman Manifesto 1982: Transhumanist Arts Statement and outlined what she perceived as an emerging transhuman culture.
Many thinkers today do not consider FM-2030's characteristics to be essential attributes of a transhuman. However, analyzing the possible transitional nature of the human species has been and continues to be of primary interest to anthropologists and philosophers within and outside the intellectual movement of transhumanism.
In March 2007, American physicist Gregory Cochran and paleoanthropologist John Hawks published a study, alongside other recent research on which it builds, which amounts to a radical reappraisal of traditional views, which tended to assume that humans have reached an evolutionary endpoint. Physical anthropologist Jeffrey McKee argued the new findings of accelerated evolution bear out predictions he made in a 2000 book The Riddled Chain. Based on computer models, he argued that evolution should speed up as a population grows because population growth creates more opportunities for new mutations; and the expanded population occupies new environmental niches, which would drive evolution in new directions. Whatever the implications of the recent findings, McKee concludes that they highlight a ubiquitous point about evolution: "every species is a transitional species."
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Editors Note: In this article, originally published on August 26, 2019, by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF), Mr. Steve Hill reviews an MIT Technology Review article authored by David Adam. Mr. Adam gives his view of the research field of aging, and Mr. Hill is impressed by the factualism compared to the MIT Technology Reviews previous articles that covered the topic. Mr. Hill goes on to discuss aging and lifespan in other species and address the question: Is aging a disease, and does it really matter?
~Bobby Ridge, Assistant Editor, September 9, 2019
It is a sure sign that the tide has turned when mainstream news outlets and magazines start publishing positive articles about aging research and the prospects of rejuvenation.
A refreshing change
Today, I want to highlight an article in MIT Technology Review in which the author, David Adam, gives a sensible and measured overview of what is happening in the field and manages to sidestep the usual negativity and misconceptions that often plague popular science pieces.
Since ancient times, aging has been viewed as simply inevitable, unstoppable, natures way. Natural causes have long been blamed for deaths among the old, even if they died of a recognized pathological condition. The medical writer Galen argued back in the second century AD that aging is a natural process.
His view, the acceptance that one can die simply of old age, has dominated ever since. We think of aging as the accumulation of all the other conditions that get more common as we get oldercancer, dementia, physical frailty. All that tells us, though, is that were going to sicken and die; it doesnt give us a way to change it. We dont have much more control over our destiny than a Cyclops.
But a growing number of scientists are questioning our basic conception of aging. What if you could challenge your deathor even prevent it altogether? What if the panoply of diseases that strike us in old age are symptoms, not causes? What would change if we classified aging itself as the disease?
The article skips the sensationalism and assumptions that many journalists typically make about aging research; instead, we get a solid piece of factual journalism. This is in stark contrast to the reporting done by this outlet a few years ago, as it had published irrationally skeptical and frequently negative coverage of the field and the science behind it.
This may be partially due to changes to the editorial staff at the magazine, which happened in 2017, but it is also indicative of the wider acceptance of the idea that we may be able to do something about aging. The same magazine has even published a special issue entitled Old Age is Over! If you want it, which takes a deeper dive into the topic, though this is paid content.
There may be a choice about how we age
For millennia, it has been assumed that aging is a one-way street and that we must simply accept that there is nothing we can do about it, aside from facing age-related ill health with stoicism. However, the situation has somewhat changed. As researchers have discovered more about how aging works, the processes driving it, and the results from model animals, it has become increasingly clear to many people that something might be done about aging in order to delay, prevent, or potentially reverse age-related diseases.
We already know that a number of species do not age; this phenomenon is known as negligible senescence. This simply means that the organism does not show a decline of survival characteristics, such as muscle strength, mobility, and senses. Such species also do not experience an increased mortality rate with advancing age or a loss of reproductive capability with age.
These species tend to have much more efficient repair systems that are capable of offsetting and repairing damage rapidly enough to prevent it from accumulating and snowballing out of control as it does in humans. We are relatively long-lived as a species, but, compared to some longevity champions, such as the bowhead whale at 200 years plus, the Greenland shark at 400 or more years, and the ocean quahog clam, which lives at least 507 years, our lifespan is relatively brief.
So, the race is now on to see if we can develop therapies to repair age-related damage, slow down how fast that damage accrues, and see if we can emulate these kings of longevity. The key take-home message here is that there is no biological reason that humans might not live longer, healthier lives if such therapies are developed.
Exactly how long that might be is a matter of speculation; it could be a few years, a decade or two, or perhaps more. The key point is that the researchers who are developing these therapies are aiming to make those extra years healthy ones, and that is surely something that most people can get behind.
Is aging a disease, and does it really matter?
Some researchers propose that aging is a disease, and while this is a somewhat contentious view, it has some merit and is absolutely worthy of further discussion. We discussed if aging is natural or pathological in a previous article, and while the case can certainly be made that aging is a disease, it may more accurately fit the description of a co-morbid syndrome: a group of symptoms that consistently occur together and a condition characterized by a set of associated symptoms.
Whether or not they believe in either the disease hypothesis or maximum life spans, most experts agree that something has to change in the way we deal with aging. If we dont do something about the dramatic increase in older people, and find ways to keep them healthy and functional, then we have a major quality-of-life issue and a major economic issue on our hands. Dr. Brian Kennedy
This matter is largely a matter of semantics, and the important thing is that, from a regulatory point of view, including aging as a disease state or syndrome would make it easier to develop therapies that directly target the aging processes themselves. Currently, therapies must focus on single diseases in order to progress through clinical trials, which is not the most optimal approach.
However, it is my personal view that this situation will not change much until the first successful human demonstration of rejuvenation therapy occurs. Until then, researchers will continue to work within the current regulatory system, and while this is, by its nature, slower, it does not prevent progress being made. Fortunately, there are now a lot of companies working in this space, and a number of therapies are quite far along in development.
A therapy that works in humans against one age-related disease by targeting an aging process directly could potentially treat a slew of other related diseases, and so any successful therapy making it through the system would likely rapidly see off-label usage for other, similar conditions.
In closing, it is refreshing to see more balanced and fair reporting on the field and the science of aging rather than the negative and highly biased material that this outlet had published prior to 2017. Reasonable skepticism is perfectly understandable, especially in a field as cutting-edge as rejuvenation biotechnology, which is charting unknown waters and attempting to do what has long been thought impossible.
However, the weight of evidence, the results of a myriad of animal studies demonstrating age reversal, and the rapid increase of scientific understanding should balance that skepticism in anyone interested in science and the actual facts. A magazine devoted to science really should be at the top of its game when reporting the facts, and this and other recent articles on the topic have been much closer to this mark. Oh my, how times have changed.
Steve Hill serves on the LEAF Board of Directors and is the Editor in Chief, coordinating the daily news articles and social media content of the organization. He is an active journalist in the aging research and biotechnology field and has to date written over 500 articles on the topic as well as attending various medical industry conferences. In 2019 he was listed in the top 100 journalists covering biomedicine and longevity research in the industry report Top-100 Journalists covering advanced biomedicine and longevity, created by the Aging Analytics Agency. His work has been featured in H+ Magazine, Psychology Today, Singularity Weblog, Standpoint Magazine, Keep Me Prime, and New Economy Magazine. Steve has a background in project management and administration which has helped him to build a united team for effective fundraising and content creation, while his additional knowledge of biology and statistical data analysis allows him to carefully assess and coordinate the scientific groups involved in the project. In 2015 he led the Major Mouse Testing Program (MMTP) for the International Longevity Alliance and in 2016 helped the team of the SENS Research Foundation to reach their goal for the OncoSENS campaign for cancer research.