H+ Magazine
Covering technological, scientific, and cultural trends that are changing–and will change–human beings in fundamental ways.

Editor's Blog

Valkyrie Ice
November 28, 2010


Recently I made a bet with a member of the Institute for Ethical and Emerging Technologies.  That bet sounded to him like I was being wildly optimistic, and he jumped at it, thinking it was a sure bet that I would lose.

That bet was that by the end of this decade, medical technology would be able to change the gender of anyone to the opposite gender, with full reproductive abilities of the new gender.

That probably sounds wildly optimistic to most of you as well, but not to me.  To be honest, I think the deck is stacked in my favor.  Why?  Because we are a lot closer to realizing this achievement than most of you probably realize.

To illustrate, take a look at this recent Wired article, which describes the current ability to use stem cells mixed with the fat from a patient's own body to grow additional breast mass in women or to regrow breasts damaged by cancer.  But that's really very unimportant, because the real breakthrough is that this can be done for nearly every kind of tissue.  It's still at a primitive stage, but scientists already learned how to "program" the stem cells to become different types of tissue.  They've made progress in making heart repairs , functional liver tissue, blood, teeth, bone, muscle, and they have even made progress on discovering how to manipulate stem cells to enable them to divide continuously.  This is a small sampling of the various breakthroughs made in just the last few years in hundreds of labs all over the world.  If you understand the implications of all those various articles, it is easy to see that we are learning how to program stem cells to do nearly anything that our body programs them to do.  Each step of learning how to program stem cells leads to greater knowledge of how to control them more precisely.

But stem cells alone are not the only medical advances that are being made.  Another major breakthrough going on in the medical field is in the improving abilities we are gaining in 3D printing.  Not only have we discovered that stem cells can be programmed to repair already existing tissue, we are using modified inkjet printers to lay down layer after layer of them in a pattern, and to basically "print" biological tissue that will "grow" together into a complete organ.

Another technique being researched is the creation of "Biological Legos" in which stem cells are embedded in a block of "glue" which holds the cells together while they form natural intercellular bonds.  Yet another technique is to use an already existing "scaffold" and fill the spaces with stem cells, growing a precisely shaped piece of tissue.

So not only are we learning to tell stem cells what to become, but we are learning how to dictate the shape of the tissues as well.  The implications for plastic surgery should be obvious.  Stem cells seem to offer us the promise that we will soon be able to restore the human body to the exact same state it was in prior to injury, enable us to regrow lost limbs, grow replacement organs on demand, and even reconstruct missing or lost tissue for reconstructive surgery.  Soon, a mastectomy might routinely remove the cancer, and rebuild a healthy breast identical to the one removed.  A heart attack might lead to a regenerated heart healthier after the attack than it was before, and even such routine needs like blood transfusions might be made by pulling your own stem cells to create a personalized supply.



But even this is pretty tame once you combine stem cells with the increasing complexity of automation, because a da Vinci surgeon robot is not going to remain under human control for very long.  So think about those articles above, about how we are learning to guide stem cells to become nearly any tissue.  Think about the day we can tell stem cells precisely what to become, and to grow in precise shapes.  Then think about an autosurgeon connected to a sensor system allowing it to make a complete map of a human body in real time, as it is fed a body map for a desired shape.  A decade from now, a plastic surgeon is likely to use body modeling software developed by MMOs and VR to enable you to decide precisely how you want to look, and then supervise the da Vinci autosurgeon as it uses your own body fat and skin cells to produce a stock of programmable stem cells, and then performs hundreds or even thousands of minimally invasive microsurgeries to place those programmed cells throughout your body, where they will become extra muscle mass, larger breasts, repair damaged internal organs, etc., allowing your future self the option of "resculpting" your personal appearance.

"But wait," you say, "wasn't this article about changing sex?  So you're saying that changing sex could be done this way too?"

Yes.  However, just being able to control stem cells to the point that we can dictate what kind of cell they become, and what shape they will have at maturity isn't all that's involved.  There are additional differences that have to be addressed in changing sex, such as hormones, biological function and reproductive function.  But researchers have already discovered how to tell ovaries to become testes.  While this is not as easy to reverse as you might think, because according to this study the ovaries apparently have to "fight" to stay ovaries, we are making great strides in understanding these various chemical and genetic "triggers", including such seemingly unimportant ones as the triggers that promote the growth of blood vessels to various types of tissue.  We're also making progress at creating "artificial" ovaries, and stem cells have been successfully used to give rabbits larger penises.

This means that as we learn to control what a stem cell becomes, we will more than likely learn how to tell them to become male or female specific organ structures as well as more generic organs.  With the abilities of cell printers to be able to make internal organs, an ability that I expect to replace organ transplants by mid to late decade, the ability to "print" sex organs seems assured.  It's rabbit penises now, but can you really believe that men won't pay to get bigger sex organs even more than women pay to have bigger breasts?  Especially when it becomes a matter of a single visit to a surgeon's office that will heal faster than a vasectomy?

So, in a decade, I think it is quite likely that the patient seeking to alter their gender would start by seeing their surgeon, who would take a complete scan of the person.  This scan would then be entered in to a program that would allow the patient and the surgeon to transform the patient's body into the precise appearance desired.  Once the body shape has been defined, the program would determine what changes would be needed, the amounts and types of stem cell stocks needed, the minimal surgery needed to reroute the urinary tract, nerves, etc. and then would proceed to extract the samples needed to create stem cell stocks.  The creation of the proper organs would then begin, using a 3d printer to create the needed tissues.  Once sufficient stocks were cultured the patient would be placed into the autodoc and, as the doctor supervised, be transformed.

It's possible that even such steps as printing the organs might be unneeded as the autosurgeon might be able to construct the needed organs in situ.

This ability to control stem cells is why I think I'm stacking the deck.  We already know quite a bit about how to do so, and the rate at which that we are making progress, as well as the potential uses for controllable stem cells, makes this a medical technology that will be developed much further over the next few years.  Regenerative medicine not only promises to help cure such issues as heart disease and spinal cord injuries, but to grow replacement organs, replace missing and damaged tissue, and even to potentially allow such abilities as replacing missing limbs.  It's a vitally important area of research, and as Wired points out, with such "frivolous" uses as breast enhancement, and the eventual penile enhancement so close to market, it's going to be the biggest medical money-maker of the next decade.  It's just one small part of the numerous advances that will be made in the next decade, but it's one that is likely to make an enormous change to our social dynamics.  Unlike silicone, there is no "unnaturalness" to a stem cell breast enhancement, and I'm certain that the ability to make any size breasts will likely emerge before mid-decade.  Combine that with the ability to make bigger penises, which I also expect to come along mid-decade, and plastic surgery is likely to become as acceptable as getting a new hairstyle.  As we continue to make progress, and gain further abilities to use stem cells to heal, regrow, or reshape the body, more people are likely to use them to make themselves look more attractive, enhance their bodies, or even to rejuvenate and repair the effects of aging.  The potential uses for stem cells are enormous and, relatively speaking, changing someone's sex is just one small possibility in thousands.

But it's still something I consider to be a pretty safe bet.

124 Comments

    I sure do hope I am wrong and Val is correct. Right now I am silently screaming out for the chance to be anyone other than the pathetic empty shell I am now. My assigned sex may be male, but my subconscious sex - my heart and mind - is female. Every day is an internal struggle as I'm forced to live this lie due to the biases of my family and mainstream society at large.

    Society sucks. In our mainstream society, masculinity is inflated to biblical proportions by our media, our schools, our churches and our government, while femininity is devalued and scorned upon as being frivolous and weak. It's considered perfectly alright and "empowering" for women to don short hair and wear pantsuits to work, but if a man tries on a dress, or holds a handbag close to his person, the insults begin to fly and all hell breaks loose around him.

    I'm not particularly fond of men in general. I find them physically repulsive, to say the least, and their enthusiasm for the authoritarian, the utilitarian and the grotesque comes across to me as totally trivial and boring. Sorry, but beer and sports do not interest me in the slightest. Facial and body hair are nothing but unsightly vestiges of our animalistic past. And don't get me started on the utter mediocrity and drab hues of male fashion.

      Being all too aware of what you are going through, and the depression and hopelessness it can bring, I sympathize. Far too much of humanity is forced to wear a mask that is not of their own choosing.

      People often ask why I present myself as a succubus online, and I tell them quite plainly because that is the appearance of the me inside, the person I am under the mask I wear of other people's expectations. It took many years and a lot of searching to finally simply admit to myself what I had known all along.

      This article is not wishful thinking. I gave up on that a long time ago. This is an honest projection of what I see developing, because it has been being assembled step by step, piece by piece for decades.

      Stem cells are the origin of every cell in the human body. They are the "nanoassemblers" that are encoded in our DNA to construct the human body. All that we are learning to do is tell these "nanobots" what to do, using the exact same codes they are designed to follow already. It's like learning to program a computer by examining a working computer program. That's far easier to do than learning to program from scratch, but if that alone was all we were doing, I would have made a projection closer to 20-30 years.

      But that is NOT all that is occurring. Not only are we learning how to program stemcells, we are building databases of information about how to program them. And those databases are being added to constantly. We are also learning at a quicker pace every year, because the number of pieces of data being assembled makes assembling the next pieces that much easier. This is a finite problem, and each subproblem solved allows us to progress to the questions yet unanswered.

      And if that was all that was happening, again, I would have placed a timeline projection of 15 to 20 years. But in addition to the work being done in medical research, we are advancing in computer processing power. We are quite likely to have terahertz computers within five years, as well as first gen quantum machines, which will allow for intensive data mining of the data being collected, and almost certainly speed up the pace of research. Such massive boosts in processing speed will also result in an increase in the ability of software agents to comprehend and analyze that data, as brute force approaches to AGI and even quantum analytical programs will allow single computers to do the work of massive networks of today.

      There are other practical results that this massive boost in computing power are likely to bring, particularly in regards to nanotech, but those are far more complex an issue than simply learning how to program stem cells to perform tasks which they are already programmed to do.

      But even that is not the only factor I am considering, because in addition to all those hard technological factors, there are social factors that come into play as well. Another result of all that increase in computing power is that practical VR is going to become a reality within the next five to eight years. and I've already written extensively on what this means in the first 3 articles I wrote for H+

      http://hplusmagazine.com/editors-blog/virtualization-rise-avatar-open-sim-project
      http://hplusmagazine.com/editors-blog/virtualization-avatar-mirrorworlds-part-two
      http://hplusmagazine.com/editors-blog/virtualization-virtual-reality-part-3

      Considering the number of females online currently played by men, once VR is able to be projected onto the real world, there will be considerable social upheaval over the abilities in VR to not only change sex, but every other thing about yourself at will. With the ability to BE your Avatar IRL (through a pair of VR lenses) the social demand to recreate that ability in biology will be enormous, and stemcells offer the most viable path to morphological freedom.

      Changing your sex is only a small part of the full range of body reshaping true morphological freedom will bring, but between the pressure brought to bear by the LGBT community, and the pressure that will likely come to bear following VR, it's likely to be one of the early precursors to full morphological freedom.

      Suffice it to say that there is no single massive breakthrough I am anticipating, but a very large number of incremental advances all interacting with one another in ways which multiply the effects of all of them.

      It's not a single wave of change, but ten thousand of them that together form a tsunami.

      If this is true, and we gain the ability to change someone's gender in ten years, what about the voice box? As most male-to-female transgenders understand, re-training the male voice to sound more feminine is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome.

      Will we be able to change a man's deep voice into dulcet feminine tones by re-arranging the tissues of the larynx? Or growing a new (female) larynx entirely from scratch and replacing it?

        Both are feasible. In addition to internal organs, I am also talking about full body subcutaneous fat layers, added fat to shape the body, minor cosmetic bone restructuring (ie cheeks and other facial bones but not wholesale skeletal restructuring) and skin and follicle modification, in all likelihood removing the majority of follicles from the body, and injecting new ones in the scalp.

        The ability to fully restructure the skeleton is something I do expect, but not within ten years, probably within 18 - 20.

      as a post-op m2f going on 7 years and will be 56 this year, i really hope this happens a lot sooner than 10 years. i also hope that it does not cost and arm and a leg to finally have the right functioning equipment to become pregnant and have a child, i ave always dreamed of being a mother and i would very happy with just one child and that would be enough for me, but if i were to have more than one that too would be alright with me. i also could use new teeth, since due to my lack of enamel since birth i have lost nearly all of my teeth and getting a mouth full of new teeth would be a god send. if they can feminize my voice as well then that would be wonderful beyond belief. i know that when those who are transgender start to use this technology to be who they truly are there will be people (mainly religious types) who will say we are sinners for doing so, but i could care less what they think or say, they are not going through what every transgender goes through every singel day of their lives.

        Also.... with the hot off the presses genetic modification breakthroughs (the CRISPR process which can be used to precisely modify stem cells) there is now (as in right now) an interesting possibility:
        There exists a genetic condition called CAIS which means Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome whereby the "sufferers" are completely insensitive to the various forms of testosterone with the result that they develop as women instead of men even though they are genetically XY normal males. So... discover what the exact genetic code is for this syndrome... Extract the fat stem cells that already exists as a treatment for stem cell breast enhancement... Take these stem cells extracted from your butt (or wherever they get them)... MODIFY these stem cells to be CAIS genetically modified (i.e. insensitive to testosterone)... Reimplant these modified stem cells into your breast tissue and they should develop as normal female breast tissue would develop WITHOUT having to suppress the testosterone. Because they willl be insensitive to testosterone and will only pick up on the Estrogen already in male bodies.... In theory this should be doable right now.

          Yes, we're following CRISPR closely here at H+. Thanks for the comment.

          And... there's this:
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3749276/
          Development of a better method of growing close to realistic mammary tissue using scaffolds.

          So if it were possible to combine the CRISPR methodology to inject CAIS genes into the epithelial stem cells used in this method we could be looking at stem cell grown breasts within a couple of years.

          Things are starting to heat up. Now if only they could make me younger...

            Thank you for the links XB, I will have to do some research. (Been Slacking a bit in recuperation of a bad relationship breakup., really need to pull myself together and get back to writing)

            In the case of switching one's physical sex from male to female, this is much easier to do by just administering estrogen and suppressing testosterone. Males have the same cells in their breasts as females; it just requires activation of their genes with estrogen and progesterone to form fully-functional female breasts.

            Currently this is done with hormone replacement therapy, and in the future this might be done with artificial ovaries.

      It's the same for me. I completely, 100% agree with you.

      i hope what u say becomes true im a 16 year old boy who only wants to be a real girl who could give birth and have a family of my own and i just hope it becomes possible that thay could make that happen.

        I do hope so too, as I am also a transgenderindividual and I choose not to transition until something like this comes out. I'm very firm on my opposition against plastic surgery.
        I'm going to redirect you to one of my posts on my site where I talked about using another transhuman piece of technology to test prospective transgender individuals.

        I will say that live is much harder than you know, but that are much stronger than television would have you know.

    Jay! ... a lot of trannies attracted naturally to the transies, It is to be expected really - trans-genders of any stripe would be inclined towards taking things at face value - naturalistic, not much 'comforted' by established religious preconceptions - and often both well educated and worldly. I will seriously advocate engagement with the trans-gendered community because this is a natural alliance, it will happen anyway and it's all these existentially disenfranchised people who have little else alternative than find something that works for a change - i.e. something to believe in other than the same old faerie tales.

    Give me some new ones that are subject to sound engineering!

    As for your prediction - being off by 10 years to 2030 is in my book half right and yes, you can only win this bet in the long run. 3D printing is an effectiveness doubling IT technology. Yes bio-engineering, ditto, is also an effectiveness doubling IT technology. Tick tock tick tock.

    The above I anticipated (in very simple naive terms) in my cyberpunk RPG stuff in the 2030s (and I RPGed this stuff in the early 1990s) and as it turns out that prototyping stuff by 'living it through in a collaborative ten year brainstorm session' really works well... I did come up with a lot of hits so far. I have those files on an old 100Mb hard disk - will try some cyberarchaeology soon to try and recover them :)

    The question is not - how can I be the sexiest, most desirable lay in 2025. I rather play it safe - my priority is longevity. I'd be perfectly fine concentrating robust rejuvenation.

    Also I am interested in what these technologies will give other people - I know what I want but I also know what I will spread as 'seeding memes' right now. For personal preferences I like men and women equally for different reasons. However my win-win scenario would not be 'merely' some sex changes - I want a *crazy* of body sculpting to begin as quickly as possible. I want these technologies tested by pioneers, thoroughly debugged, massproduced and safe, cheap and far more user-friendly than any medical technology today.

    Hell I want *massive market penetration*. Pardon my pun.

    I know what I am supposed to be, and that is a breathtakingly beautiful, tall, rather muscled and volluptuous, constantly smiling woman in her mid-20s, a fine blend of all the world's races with a subtle Mediterrean leitmotiff, hauntingly soft blue eyes, and small horns and a nice hairless tail. Very robust throat, vagina and ass, thank you very much - my current assets are already satisfying but I want them seriously younger, more elegantly feminine, healthier and significantly upgraded.

    But what I want is only incidental - what I want as many people to want something quite specific. Let's assume Valkey is half right and by 2030 we have organ-growth low error, safe and affordable organ replacements, functional step by step upgrades and debugging - 'boutique' cybersurgery ... then I want *before* 2035 to subtly sway as many people as I can to wanting to be *Futa*.

    I mean I have a lot of work to do, but if my 2035 we must have at least 10% of the populations turned to this

    http://www.futanaripalace.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=329394&d=1291260011 (hell yah, FSFW!)

    I mean, seriously, young, healthy, beautiful, big tits and a nine inches of HELLO GOOD MORNING. What more can you ask for in a lover? I'll take the 100 cc ejaculations in stride with significant glee, thank you very much. Subtle coconut flavor please?

    Hey valky I haven't seen you much in SL. Can we go over these notes in the FFC?

      *giggle* Hi Khannea, glad you liked the article, even if you are dubious about my timelines. I'm used to that, most people aren't looking at the same set of factors that I am. Your enthusiasm is much appreciated, and I'm glad that there are some people out there aware of the more unusual effects of morphological freedom will bring to our world.

      I've not been in SL much lately due to a incompatible work schedule and moving into a new place. I'll check in occasionally but it's usually when no-one's on. I'll try to catch you though.

    I wouldn't be surprised if you win your bet, as long as the definition of 'gender' is restricted to the body. When it comes to the mind, though, things are a bit different.

    As a man, I might be interested to know what it's like to be a female, but having a female body isn't going to automatically give me an inability to read maps and a fascination with shoes. In the case of someone who's 'a man trapped in a woman's body', or vice-versa, yes, this is great, but it's not gender-swapping, it's 'gender-aligning', bringing the body into alignment with the mind.

    To fully gender-swap, we'd need to be able to change mental structures as well as physical ones, and we're still some way from being able to do that.

      That is indeed the definition I am using. I am not talking a restructuring of the brain, because that would involve a complete destruction of the individual. Men's and Woman's brains are significantly different in structure, with different ratios of white and grey matter, and significantly different hemisphere to hemisphere connectivity. I seriously doubt that even with full morphological abilities, we will be restructuring the basic brain of the individual. The specific patterns of synaptic connections and the hardwired structure of the brain are what give rise to the program that we generally call "Consciousness". You can't rewrite the brain with out destroying the self. Hormonal changes are adaptable, tearing apart your brain to change it is not.

      I'm only discussing physical form changes, not murder.

      Thought I would add this for you since I finally found the link:

      http://www.eje-online.org/cgi/content/full/155/suppl_1/S107

      The findings suggest that treatment of MFs with estrogens and anti-androgens decreases the male brain size towards female proportions, whereas treatment of FMs with androgens (not substantially affecting circulating estrogen levels) increases the female brain size towards male proportions. The magnitude of this change (i.e. 31 ml over a 4-month period) is striking, since it signifies a decrease in brain volume, which is at least ten times the average decrease of around 2.5 ml per year in healthy adults (16). Moreover, please note that consistent with the findings in the young adult control subjects of the present study, the longitudinal brain volume changes in young adults are normally small as compared with the older adults (17). The changes in total brain and hypothalamus volumes following cross-sex hormone treatment in the transsexuals were mirrored by changes in their third and lateral ventricle volumes, i.e. treatment with estrogens and anti-androgens in MFs increased third and lateral ventricle volumes, whereas treatment with androgens decreased the third and lateral ventricle volumes in FMs. This suggests that the total brain volume changes are at least in part due to changes in medial brain structures surrounding these ventricles (including, but not limited to, the hypothalamus, which lies in close proximity to the third ventricle). Considering that the effects were not specific for gray (neurons, glia) or white (myelinated axonal fibers) matter suggests that both alterations in nerve cells as well as in axonal fibers may be implicated in the anatomical brain changes following cross-sex hormone treatment in humans. It is not surprising that the influences of sex hormones on the brain were not limited to the hypothalamus, but were also expressed as changes in total brain size. Estrogen and androgen receptor mRNA containing neurons are not limited to the hypothalamus, but are distributed throughout the adult human brain (18).

      Prior to cross-sex hormone treatment, no differences in brain volumes between transsexuals and comparison subjects were found. Transsexuals had brain volumes in agreement with their sex at birth. The intracranial volume (and hence overall brain size) and the hypothalamus volume of males were larger than the females, irrespective of the condition of transsexualism. This supports the notion that brain volume changes in transsexuals are related to cross-sex hormone treatment and do not reflect pre-existent differences in brain volume between transsexuals and comparisons originating from earlier (pre- or perinatal) brain development. Thus, our findings imply plasticity of adult human brain structure to develop towards the size of the opposite sex under the influence of cross-sex hormones.

      ****************************************

      As you can see, hormonal changes do affect the brain, but in a non-destructive, adaptable manner. Given sufficient time in the opposite sex, it appears that the brain will grow ever more adapted to the new gender.

      Again, this is a far cry from the kinds of changes I am speaking of physically. The brain's plasticity is one thing. These kinds of changes do not disrupt the synaptic connections and connectomes, which physical restructuring would.

    What's about something useful, like cancer treatment?

      Wow, what a way to make it really obvious that you didn't bother to read the article but merely looked at the title and decided to troll.

      If you had bothered to read it, and follow the links you'd find a lot about using stem cells to treat cancer, as well as heart disease, organ failure, even such things as muscular dystrophy and muscle mass lost to aging.

      But, you didn't...

    I would point out that 'technological Mount Improbable' does not just consist of the hopelessly twisted paths and dead ends that are metaphores for impediments to progress be they technical, ethical, or whatever. It also has 'shortcuts' which stand for flashes of inspiration, or the introduction of new technologies, or the successfull collaboration between previously unrelated fields of expertise, and many more possibilities, any one of which might enable us to progress further and faster than seemed feasible before we were aware such 'shortcuts' existed.

    but it's not going to happen in 10 years. A new treatment has to go through many clinical tests to

    become available for humans. Considering that gender change is a radical treatment, the clinical

    test phase could alone take up to 10 years. Also, a lot of technologies mentioned in your article

    will need at least another 10 years to fully develop, which is another setback. So maybe 30 years

    from now it could be possible, but 10 years? Definetely not.

      You are basing this assumption on the medical laws of America, I am not. At no point did I say this would be an "American" advance, because I strongly doubt it will be. Medical technology in America is far more designed to prevent innovation than encourage it, because innovation threatens existing corporate profits. Our research in universities and colleges may contribute, but the bulk of stem cell developments are taking place outside of America.

      However, as the rest of the world bypasses America, it will become increasingly difficult for American Corporations to prevent advance.

        The American FDA regulations arent the only game on the planet. I can see it now. Big breasts, big penises, and other options for body sculpting will put the Brazil in BRIC.

    And an update: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101208151611.htm

    Using stem cell technology, reproductive scientists in Texas, led by Dr. Richard R. Behringer at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, have produced male and female mice from two fathers.

    In the new work, the Behringer team manipulated fibroblasts from a male (XY) mouse fetus to produce an induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell line.

    According to the authors, "Our study exploits iPS cell technologies to combine the alleles from two males to generate male and female progeny, i.e. a new form of mammalian reproduction."

    In the future, it may also be possible to generate human oocytes from male iPS cells in vitro.

    Using a variation of the iPS technique, the researchers say "it may also be possible to generate sperm from a female donor and produce viable male and female progeny with two mothers."

    Highlights from the article. This IS being worked on.

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-12-human-spermatogonial-stem-cells-insulin-secreting.html

    Their laboratory and animal study is a proof of principle that human spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) extracted from testicular tissue can morph into insulin-secreting beta islet cells normally found in the pancreas. And the researchers say they accomplished this feat without use of any of the extra genes now employed in most labs to turn adult stem cells into a tissue of choice.

    Instead of using IPS cells, the researchers turned to a readily available source of stem cells, the SSCs that are the early precursors to sperm cells. They retrieved these cells from deceased human organ donors.

    Because SSCs already have the genes necessary to become embryonic stem cells, it is not necessary to add any new genes to coax them to morph into these progenitor cells, Gallicano says. "These are male germ cells as well as adult stem cells."

    "We found that once you take these cells out of the testes niche, they get confused, and will form all three germ layers within several weeks," he says. "These are true, pluripotent stem cells."

    *********************

    While no where near being a working cure for diabetes yet, there are three things of note here, The lack of need for additional genes, the ready availability of source cells, and ability to morph them into things besides just insulin cells.

    And item two: http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-12-stem-cells-complex-functioning-intestinal.html

    For the first time, scientists have created functioning human intestinal tissue in the laboratory from pluripotent stem cells.

    "This is the first study to demonstrate that human pluripotent stem cells in a petri dish can be instructed to efficiently form human tissue with three-dimensional architecture and cellular composition remarkably similar to intestinal tissue," said James Wells, Ph.D., senior investigator on the study and a researcher in the division of Developmental Biology at Cincinnati Children's.

    To turn pluripotent stem cells into intestinal tissue, scientists performed a timed series of cell manipulations using chemicals and proteins called growth factors to mimic embryonic intestinal development in the laboratory.

    The first step turned pluripotent stem cells into an embryonic cell type called definitive endoderm, which gives rise to the lining of the esophagus, stomach and intestines as well as the lungs, pancreas and liver. Next, endoderm cells were instructed to become one those organ cell types, specifically embryonic intestinal cells called a "hindgut progenitors". The researchers then subjected the cells to what they describe as a "pro-intestinal" cell culture system that promoted intestinal growth.

    Within 28 days, these steps resulted in the formation of three-dimensional tissue resembling fetal intestine that contained all the major intestinal cell types – including enterocytes, goblet, Paneth and enteroendocrine cells. The tissue continued to mature and acquire both the absorptive and secretory functionality of normal human intestinal tissues and also formed intestine-specific stem cells.

    *****************************

    *giggle* step by step. piece by piece.

      I wish i can speak to god so i can ask him why did he/she make me like this?!

      does he enjoy watching me suffering?!

      but I do love him and pray every time I am in pain:)

      and your *giggle* step by step. piece by piece.

      comment gives me hope... a some kind of hope that i will be ok in future...

      I am currently enrolled in a MED school and

      few month ago I learned that Stem cells

      somehow die or disappear by failing to withstand the surrounding environment.

      when i learned that statement... i was just sad...:(

      but one of my professors told me that,

      scientists are now moving on to Gene instead of stem cell.

      Because they found that the bottom line of the how stem cell works is the certain type of gene in stem cells activate surroundings to change!
      (such as BMPs. BMP-7 is responsible for ordering body and brain to grow cells and turn them into certain organs such as kidney, bones, liver, soft tissue and even the mysterious intervertebral disc's nucleus pulposus)

      when you said "Within 28 days" it gave me a creep because i was maybe thinking the "28 Days later" ? O_O

      but lets hope that god help us to help those who suffer from gender issues like us, transsexuals!

      maybe the god actually does not hate scientists to discover and unveiling the secrets but wants us to learn stuffs step by step and piece by piece so the nature does not go to complete mayhem! maybe those extreme "IT SAYS IN THE BIBLE" Christian guys are the actual misinterpreted nature people who actually blocks us to help ourselves by helping each other with new technologies!

      When i do see our Father, god I wish I can be in my true body and stand next to him!(because I do love him) :) or... At least i hope he does not hate me and unleash the painful Hell to me T_T

        oh and excuse my poor English T_T I am not a Native English speaker

        What God Wants, God Gets.

        I cannot accept a deity who could create the human mind would then desire for us to not use that mind to find a greater understanding of the world around it.

        Science is the Key. It opens the door to truth by making us find answers to all our questions, and each answer we find leads to more questions.

        I don't believe in the "god" proposed by religions of any sort. I believe "god-like" beings can exist, and that as humans, we are evolving towards becoming those beings ourselves, so I can accept the idea of a "higher being" but not the egomaniacal representations of them in myth.

        Were humans "made"? I can't answer that. Does a "God" exist? I can't answer that either, merely state that a probability higher than zero exists that a "god-like" being could exist. Does that being enjoy suffering? I think a better question would be is such a being even aware of us? Would such a being have anymore awareness of individual humans than humans have of microbes?

          it is interesting that human have 23 pairs of chromosomes while all other chimp species have 24 pairs; almost as if we are not "allowed" to bred back.

    And more news on the programmed cell therapy front:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110202102124.htm

    In work that could jumpstart the promising field of cell therapy, in which cells are transplanted into the body to treat a variety of diseases and tissue defects, researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) have engineered cells that could solve one of the key challenges associated with the procedure: control of the cells and their microenvironment following transplantation.

    "Ten to fifteen years from now, people will visit cell infusion centers to receive routine therapy for multiple diseases and tissue defects," predicts Karp, who also holds appointments through Harvard Medical School, Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST). For example, a person who has had a heart attack could be infused with cells that could help stimulate regeneration of new heart cells to replace those that have died and prevent eventual heart failure

    The rest of the article goes into details, but this is a major step towards programmable stem cell therapies and the uses discussed in this article.

    Interesting speculation which I am hopeful is true. I don't much about the medical aspects, but you are way off on the technology aspects. Quantum computers are a whole lot more than 5 years of, and there simply isn't a need for terrahertz computers with better engineered cores and parallel processing.

      Might I suggest you read up a bit more on these subjects before making such sweeping dismissals?

      QC's are progressing at a lightning fast pace, and graphene is now almost to a commercially viable mass manufacturing stage. Regardless of whether you *think* we have a need for them or not,, they are still being developed.

    I was wondering if your projections include changing the bone structure? I assume they do, but they aren't
    Mentioned and my bone structure is my biggest obstacle to passing as the female I am.

      actually I did mention that bone structure was unlikely to be extensively modifiable. While things like facial reconstruction may be, I doubt that they could affect things like overall size before true nanotech.

      I'm 6'5 myself. It's pretty likely I'm going to stay an Amazon for a while.

        I have thought about adding more vertebrae to my lower back. humans seem to have been a rush job.

    http://medicalxpress.com/news/2011-07-gene-required-male-sex-life.html

    So, it appears that by turning this gene off, some of the needed physical changes to turn a male into a female will simply occur naturally. Including the beginnings of turning testes into ovaries.

    http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/experimentalman/27164/?fb_ref=article

    When I asked Church what he was most excited about right now, he answered without hesitation: "I'm thinking a lot about using regeneration as the key to treatments and keeping people healthy."

    TR: You mean regeneration using stem cells?

    Church: Yes, induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells (see, "Growing Heart Cells Just for You"). This is where I'm putting almost all of my chips these days, because it combines many of my interests--genomics, sequencing, epigenetics, synthetic biology, stem cells. I don't think people have fully appreciated how quickly adult stem cells and sequencing and synthetic biology have progressed. They have progressed by orders of magnitude since we got IPS. Before that, they basically weren't working.

    TR: Does IPS really work to accomplish this regeneration?

    Church: We have good evidence that you can create an entire mouse from IPS cells.

    TR: Has this been done?

    Church: This has been done. They have used IPS cells to grow a mouse, and they made IPS cells from that mouse. They're totipotent [able to make an entire organism], not merely pluripotent. We haven't done this for humans for obvious ethical reasons, but we will do it. As far as I know the mice have done fine.

      couldn't we design a two chamber heart to fit at the bottom of the abdominal vena cava?

    You mention above that you think it unlikely that complete skeletal re-structuring will be possible within a decade, and that you are 'stuck at being an Amazon' for a little while longer.

    I can see that it will be very difficult to make a person shorter, but it would surely be a lot easier to make someone taller. I'm not very knowledgeable myself, but I saw the following comment somewhere else and it sounds convincing to me - I would like to know what you think :

    there can be some procedure in which cells in your closed plate are induced back to a phase which can be called open, then with activation of some genes they can be hyper activated to multiply longitudinally and the reclosed, and the same can be done ( at least in hypothetical theory) to your muscles and cartilages.

    I suspect you're off but only by about five years. My bat for success is higher though. like khannea I want to become my avatar and I'm 25 years too old. Sigh.

    Valkyrie Ice.
    I have read all of your virtual reality posts and your main page on your website and I find how you see the future rather interesting. I a person who has a vivid imagination can already see if this were to happen what would happen to human society. But that is besides the point, and if you still read the comments on this post I would like to ask a few questions.

    So, I'll just start from the top. In several of your article you talk about how people will have the ability to change themselves anyway they see fit by just going to clinic. I a person rooted in the practicality of the modern world know this will cost a good amount of money. Do you have any ideas as to how much these changes in any regard would cost?

    Now with your proposed advances in the field of stemcell research why wouldn't it be more practical for one to just have their desired body 'made' and if it is even possible do a brain transfer? Also another way of changing ones characteristics has been suggested in gene therapy. Why would it not be possible to just change the XY chromosomes to XX chromosomes for a male to become genetically female? Would that not bring about the desired physical changes as well?

    Now on to my next question. You seem to read quite a bit of scientific material. And on a side note what are some of the sites you visit for you material? But, back to my question what do you have to say on the prolonging of human life or even halt of aging? We know a few of the causes of human aging and are as of now attempting to reverse or stop them. Also there are according to several articles I read two types of whales that don't age along with two other ocean born species that I can't think of that supposedly either don't age or age extremely slow. And as of now there are two teams that are racing each other to try and find a genetic commonality to understand why these species don't age. Do you feel that it is practical to say that within the next 20-30 years they will be able to halt the aging process altogether or atleast slow it down? I'm concerned with this question because I'm just in my late teens and I would really like to stick around and see space flight/travel.

    Finally, if the proposed advancements that you talked about in the above article were to actually be achieved how socially acceptible would you say that would be only within a few years after their development and do you think it would be availible to the average person? If you read this I hope to get a response.

      Due to the fact that this comment appeared right in the middle of numerous other comments previously answered, I'm afraid I missed it.

      so to question one, cost. No idea for initial costs. I do however see it dropping rapidly as the technology is perfected, mainly because numerous other factors will come into play. See http://hplusmagazine.com/2011/09/12/a-peek-into-the-demonesss-mind-or-yes-i-actually-do-use-logic-to-make-predictions/

      It might be possible to do a brain transfer, but current indications point to the likelihood of modification being the initial stage. Full body recreations are likely to be feasible, but not for many years after modding. Also, just changing XY to XX might not be sufficient to cause physical changes in an adult.

      The sites I visit most are Next Big Future, Singularity Hub, Physorg, Science Daily, New Scientist, and several Facebook groups, but I also have numerous google alerts doing daily searches for VR, Nanotech, Stemcells, and Graphene.

      On the subject of aging, I'm a member of Longecity, http://www.imminst.org/forum/ and think that aging is very likely to solved within the next 2 decades, with the ability to rejuvenate the elderly to youthful states via either biological methods or nanotechnological ones.

      As for the social aspect, considering the disruptions to the social order I see already occurring, I suspect that mere gender change is going to be a non-issue. http://hplusmagazine.com/2011/04/07/dreams-of-a-succubus/

        Thanks for the response. I appreciate it. I only bugged you because this article has somewhat of a personal application to my life.

    I dont think we necesarrilly need 3D printers to do this. Vascularized tissue scaffolds are the critical missing piece and theres all sorts of money being poured into that. The next piece is simple organ transplant surgery. I doubt we can easily change an xy to an xx in all tissues in the body but we certainly could change the genetic gender of the seed stem c ells before transplant surgery so that the *form* is fully anatomically female. would such a male be capable of getting pregnant and carrying a baby to term? unknown

    I'm curious though, with addition to gender change, will ethnicity change be avilable? And say if not just human ethnicity, what of changing your racial, to beyond human (serious question), for "Other kins out there". Say for instance i don't feel right in a Chinese Canadian male body, and say want to be a smurf, with blue pigment, or an orc, but a chick (serious questions), or some mythical creature like a Chubacabra or Kappa, or furry (serious question).

    Will Christianity still be applicable in this case as God sends avatars to save HUMANS?

    I'd be happy neverless if I could change my ethnicity and gender....

    Ok, so here's my question: my boyfriend and I both would very much like to enjoy the organs of both sexes, but without giving up the ones we already have. Would it be possible to attach a penis to a female body it vice versa?

    I would like to volunteer for this procedure. I feel I should have been a girl at birth. I'm stuck in a man's body, and would do anything to get out of it. Please let me know when you need a lab rat for this. It would be a dream come true.

    If you can print replacement body organs and teeth then a big bioprinter should be able to print the whole body. Those who want total designer bodies or change gender, or exotics like furies may go for this option and print a whole new body for brain transplant.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2011/09/15/years-not-decades-to-growing-new-improved-tissue-from-your-own-stem-cells/

    Based on this, I would say my bet is right on track, if not a little ahead of schedule.

    I think that stem cell research in general is the next step in medical research. im suprised the government isnt funding this yet. Now i do believe in god and i know the whole "your playing with god" speech but to me that whole speech is in ignorance. if this research could save lives, and bring people back to full health and give people the bodies they desire and medical insurances will start covering it, I seriously believe that Stem cell research will put america back on top.

    To me ths isn't about playing god, this a major medical breakthrough that i know over time will become accepted. In my opinion the pros far outweigh the cons.

      god always looks like the faithful. what god looks like is what many of are wars are about. we're never rational about this.

    As was said in many of the comments above, I to deal with the harsh reality of being male and would give anything to be what I should of been a female. But sadly can't due, To the fact of the matter its not possible quite yet is there any way to voulenteer for the procedure when the time comes.

    I hope Valkyrie Ice is correct. I'm accepting my transsexualism more and more. However I am way too frightened to undergo a long and painful (both emotionally and physically) transition with uncertain results.

    I am a woman inside, but I'd rather die than be an ugly half-man, half-woman hybrid. I am just too used to being attractive, even if it's not me. Also I would like to give birth and not remain childless forever.

    Meanwhile I'll be working hard upon my dreams to become rich so I can pay for all that, hoping that this article is correct and at the same time keeping myself away from sharp objects. Sometimes a suicide seems like the only way out, but as long as I have hope I will go on living.

      as a baby boomer I will say that bullies/closeted have a short shelf life. getting old is the best revenge.

    I would hope this becomes soon. I'm an odd case Ive been told. I'm Male physically but strange mentally, I'm a definite girl, with some guy mannerisms. I have always wished to be a girl for as long as I can remember too. And when all hope was lost, you gave me the shred of hope that was left in Pandora's Box! I just hope that its not in exacly 10 years (2020 would not be a fun year for me to try to get this seeing as Id be 23 from the time this was posted.) I hope it could be something I could get when Im 18 at least! (3 years) I know I am only 15 and most people say I dont know if I want this... Oh, but if/when this is possible, that will be the only thing in the world I would want! :D

      people know what their gender identity is by the time they start to talk. if you live as I have, you become what you really are.

    Wildly optimistic.

    Actual, in-use medical technology is typically at _least_ 15 years behind cutting edge research.

    There's at least one good reason for that, too -- checking long-term effects.

    Ideally, there would be a delay of a lifetime between the first set of experimental treatments and the wide usage. Otherwise, you miss how in sixty-five years, the patient goes a metamorphosis to a giant man-eating caterpillar.

    So, Total rebuild is probably coming, I just hope it gets here before I die.

    How do I become a human pet rat to participate in these trials to become female

    @LizMarie, is the name noelleis familiar to you?

    Anyway, I'd just like to offer my thoughts on this discussion.

    First, I'd like to express my concerns for connection of nerves and blood vessels. While individual nerves and vessels can be connected with ease, connecting the nerves and blood vessels for the entire female reproductive system may be a little more complex. Also, iPS cell lines that are reintroduced to the organisms that they were taken from respectively are rejected by the host organism. This is a difficulty that will have to be overcome in order for these treatments to be fully successful, although reconstruction is better than nothing. Although nervous reconstruction is getting better and better every day, I still worry that tissue damage may result due to loss of sensitivity and blood flow. These are some issues to take intro consideration while engineering therapies that reengineer organ systems entirely.

    Second, I'd like to ask about SRS and VFS. I've heard that the entire voice box can be reconstructed, but I'm not entirely sure if the surgery will have the desired effects. I read a study about one patient who had VFS and had certain parts of her voice immobilized, thus rendering her locked in one pitch. Will the various motor neurons be connected to the existing ones, or will alternate manners of controlling pitch be developed?

    I am a trans person, noy in on hormones, but I did you to the doctors and went to the sessions meeting other trans people, I couldnt do it, sounded like injections all the times, drugs that give you no sex drive leading to depression, after getting the information of whats involved and talking to people that have been through it no to mention the impact it had on my family telling them i was seeing a doctor on why I wanted to be a woman, now what I have to say has everything to do with your bet, its 2013 now 3 years after you bet, I still just hear speculation like stem cell research is 10 years away after 10 years, basicaly its decades away they say 10 years because there still in early development, this is a medical reseaerch on a biological level, a lot can go wrong and im shore a lot has gone wrong in testing, its advansed research thats deadly, its tampering with your genetics, this has to be perfect, most research is used in the world well before its perfected and is perfected over years and years, this stem cell research has to be perfect in everyway to be used safley on the population, now as you say your bet involves stem cell breasts as a revolutionary thing, well anyone can have what ever breasts they like, silicon ok but its good enough, thats not going to win you a bet, they can recreate a functioning vagina already, its not perfect but its very good, if you could have stem cell breasts and stem cell vagina that would be far better I agree but that wont win you any bet, the voice, the hands, the feet, the broad shoulders, the fact most men are taller hen women, a man has a male frame, thats in the sceleton, thats no longer tissue, thats bone, so you would need to be able to reduse the persons size, reduse there shoulders, make there hands smaller, make there feet smaller, change there total scull shape, not just nose, the actuil sceletal head, the sceleton frame changes throu pubity, so I dont know if stem cell research can do all this including changing the voice box, these alterations are not in line with the human body that is designed as male, so im not shore, so you have to add a lot more to your bet then the things stem cell research can do, to win this bet you need the folowing, stem cell breasts, stem cell vagina, stem cell reduction of broad shoulders, reduction of hand size, reduction of feet size, altering of facial bone, reduction is body size, voice box changed to a females, abylity to have children, natrul flow of estrogen in the body without the need of female hormone drugs or injections to stay your gender and for the girl wanting to be a guy, then its increase in over al body size, increase in mustle mass, full functional penis, making hands larger and feet larger, changing of vocal box, natrul flow of testosterone in the body with no need of drugs and injections to stay your gender

      Yes hun, it's 2013 and much is still experimental, and if you are doing your research in the US, it's rather depressing.

      But this is one of those exponential technologies. The timelines they give you are based in the idea that only incremental change will happen. They're wrong. They assume that it will take decades, because they can't understand exponential curves. In other words, it's not going to see a lot of major change during the first part of the decade, but by 2016 to 2020 a LOT is going to start changing, and it will get faster every day.

      It's easy to give up hope. And you are not the first trans to look at my articles and try to use it to find hope. All I can tell you is what I tell everyone.

      There is a "Conventional Wisdom" that tells you things are one way. But that viewpoint excludes the outliers, the odd, the "not acceptable."

      I don't make my predictions to give hope. I make them because I see evidence which when assembled through logic, analysis, and examination of a far greater range of data and factors then "Conventional Wisdom" allows, I come to very different conclusions. I don't see "hope", I see facts and figures and factors that lead me to logical outcomes.

      Yes, there are many things that would need to be perfected, but many of them are so interrelated that we will likely find solutions to them as a group. Nor do I expect much to happen prior to the later years of the decade, so basing anything on whats happening now is going to be inconclusive. If zero progress has been made by 2019 I'd be examining which factors changed to throw off the prediction.

        i'm actually rather frightened by the shapes people will take up in the next decade. is a black belt enough when Khan steps up to me?

          Why would you be worried when you would have the same ability to have the same augmentations? Or better?

          This is a mindset that seriously has to be overcome. The assumption that "Ubermensch" will be "advantaged" in a world in which EVERYONE can be an "Ubermensch"

          Is Khan really that frightening in a world which is likely to be filled with Orcs, Trolls, Centaurs, Dragons, Vampires, etc?

          Or for that matter, Succubi?

            i'm not sure I have the emotional-much less the spiritual-resources to adapt, much less keep up with what's coming. and yes you 7 foot sucubbus of war, you frighten me. that's why most of us are still in the 20th century. it feels safer back here.

              Sadly that fear is one thing that more than anything else I see as an existential threat to our survival.

              It's not safe in the 20th Century Huk. That's an illusion. It always has been. And yes, I am aware many people have trouble facing a reality of accelerating change. There's a reason why I have often said that the world is about to come face to face with it's Demons of the ID.

              But the simple reality is there's no stopping change. All that fighting it does is pile up the body count. That's why I try to point out the ramifications of advancing technology with an emphasis on the positive outcomes, even if those outcomes will come only AFTER some negative consequences.

              I understand the fear. I simply refuse to allow fear to control me. I won't give in to the constant bombardment by vested interests who want me to fear anything they see as disrupting their shallow short term self interest. Why? Because if I allow the fear to rule, all I will accomplish is being an accomplice to massive genocide through neglect.

              And that is what most frustrates me about people who fear the future. Because they are good, well meaning people, who simply cannot see that their fears will only lead to death and suffering for millions of people WHO DID NOT HAVE TO DIE AND SUFFER.

              I can't stop you from fearing, Huk. I'm sorry. I have no words of comfort against fear of the future. All I can do is continue as I have been, trying to show the positives that will eventually result, even though the immediate situation is going to get pretty crazy. These are the crazy years after all. All I can hope for is that some people will read my words, and find a way to fight the fear, instead of lashing out against a future that will come regardless of anything they do.

              But I can also listen. Why do you fear me, Huk? Why do you think that "the status quo" is "safe?" Do you really want a future in which nothing changes? In which technology doesn't advance? What exactly is it about the future that you fear?

                i fear the death urge of humanity.

                  The death urge of humanity?

                  Xenophobia is one of those urges you know. Fear of change, fear of the different, fear of others. Fear of anything "Not Normal"

                  Kind of a paradox there Huk. The definition of "normal" is always changing.

                    i have thought about a safer shape than the bag of water i wear now and Groot of the Guardians of the Galaxy is much sturdier than me.

    As you said the mind can't be restructured without destroying the individual but what if you make the person think that they are a girl like how a hypnotist hypnotizes someone.

    As long as the world's economy remains relatively stable and we get through the next few years without getting into a major world war, I can see your timeline as being highly plausible.

    For some people to say that we are at a technological standstill is simply ludicrous. I'm in my mid-30's and today's world is FAR different from the Reagan era that I grew up in. When I was a kid, a telephone was something that was plugged into a wall which you sometimes had to actually "dial" someone's number via it's rotary mechanism. Televisions were heavy curved tubes in a big box, cassette tapes were just beginning to be the music format of choice, VHS and Betamax were dueling it out for the home video market, cable television had perhaps 25 channels and the home PC was something unheard of unless you were very wealthy (and most of those ran DOS...) Not to mention, car phones were massive pieces of equipment back then!

    There's been plenty of other changes, societal and political, and sometimes I find it really hard to believe that I am living in what is our current reality.

    While I currently identify as a hetero male in both gender and sexuality, throughout the past 25 years of my life I have had a desire for being able to change my own sex to female. As you can imagine it has caused me a lot of distress at times, growing up in the bible belt of America, this type of behavior was not acceptable back then and something that we were taught is abnormal. While I have experimented with cross dressing in the past and I once came out to my Mother, many of my fantasies are kept internal today, especially since I have become a family man and am currently raising two kids with possibly more on the way. There is a definite need for me to put my own desires aside and play the role of father and husband. Still, I wouldn't mind being a woman, even just for a day.

    Valkyrie, I do have a few very important questions that I did not see presented in your article or the comments on this page.

    If stem cell/gene therapy became so advanced as to enable unlimited rejuvenation of our bodies, essentially making people practically immortal, how would we deal with overpopulation issues if no one ever died? Mind uploading is perhaps a century away and we only have so much space on our planet.

    Perhaps transhuman medical procedures might be something affordable by only the elite and super wealthy? What would people be willing to pay for this treatment $5K or $10M? $5K would be preferable for most of us, but that would mean that many people might choose life extension.

    Would it be preferable to have people trade their reproductive rights for the ability to live forever? I personally see this being an appropriate recourse to prevent our global population from growing too quickly, a global population of 7+ billion people is already having a negative impact on our planet and it's natural resources.

    This technology is fascinating and I am still excited to see how it develops. Imagine if someone with the mental acuity of Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson or Thomas Edison could live forever, we would eventually solve all of our problems.

      Sorry it took so long to reply. I've sort of been on Hiatus.

      Re population. Not an issue. Most advanced societies are reproducing LESS than replacement rates. Only undeveloped nations or transitional nations still have "growing" populations. You don't hear this fact because "Overpopulation" is too useful for causing fear. So long as you "fear" a growing population, you are more likely to buy the lie of "limited resources" when we are in truth drowning in oversupply. Same goes for space. It's a fear causing meme. I live in TN, on a mountain, with literally MILES AND MILES OF UNOCCUPIED LAND, that has NEVER had a house built on it, or in many cases, been set foot on in decades. It's all designed to make you fear a "resource shortage" in order to allow the market controllers to claim scarcity where none exists. It's a tailored meme all directed at trying to prevent the emergence of an economy of abundance by creating artificial scarcity.

      That makes "life extension" another technology that is seen as an enemy of the "Status Quo", because the truth is that we could support a population a hundred times larger than we do with the effective use of vertical farms and eventually food printing, but to do so, we'd first have to change the current infrastructure of the supply chain, which would interfere with short term profits. And healthy, long lived humans aren't desirable to the current corporate medicine interests. They want you dependent on a never ending supply of treatments that never cure.

      That will change, but it's not going to be overnight.

      And yes, life extension is going to be expensive.... to begin with. It's got to go through the "Expensive/Doesn't work very well" stage after all, no? I just love the fact that all those wealthy people will be rushing to be lab-rats. I'll be quite happy to wait the few years it will take before the profit has been wrung out of the wealthy and in an effort to continue to profit, cheaper and better working solutions are offered to those with less wealth. I'll take the "Cheap/works really well" version myself.

        remember that they want to keep us divided. "Keep them sick, keep them stupid, and keep them scared." is their way.

    I really wish people would learn to separate sex from gender in these discussions. This approach isn't about changing your gender, but changing your sex. Sex is a physical characteristic and gender is a cultural one.
    This is the heart of the reason why feminist tend to have problems with people in the transsexual spectrum. I am speaking not as a feminist, but as a transsexual. When you speak of changing your gender you are actually talking about changing your body to fit with your cultural preconditioning about how a male and a female are supposed to act in that culture.

      Accepted. I will strive to be clearer in the future.

    I have faith in the medical system because I myself wish to join it to provide input both from what is being worked on in the Western and Eastern worlds, and not rely too much on the medical model.
    Perhaps this use of technology could help us find a way to veer into another person's shoes. After all, I believe the concept of sensation is what gives us the concept of memory and wisdom. Many scientists believe that transsexualism occurs from the hardwiring of the brain due to faulty genetics, while some argue that it is through neuroplasticity by induced cross-gendered behavior. I suspect that many of this is visually stimulated.
    A research study I would like to see conducted is to establish a prototype of the human brain, one male and one female adult brain. Now, science has proven that female brains have enlarged regions and thicker bonds between the hemispheres. This might explain why they might be observant and more detailed. Not so much with male brains, of course, except for the transgendered. If we could have a volunteer willing to help out in research, we could rehardwire the brain and see if the way they perceive, think, feel, interact, etc change in any way. Because being hardwired from birth never allows one to describe how they are different in precise language, we cannot know for sure how they really feel. But if we did it long after birth, we could learn more. Of course, this is only for roles within our culture. But there must be something that is universal in humans.
    Also, in people with sensory disabilities, they are probably going to have a hard time in knowing whether or not they are who they really are, since like I said, many of the stuff is visually stimulated, in the case of congenital blindness. Perhaps one could feel or hear things that matches who they really want to be as a child. Psychologically, people respond better to female voices.
    Many people choose to suit their needs and wants for themselves and not make a difference in society. That is why they do not come back to researchers to report their experiences. And just for the record, everything stated here always has exceptions and they can be contradicted.

    I realize what I'm about to say usually brings on scorn from the biologically Intersex community...but...I have never identified internally as either male or female; both options seem partial at best, wholly inadequate at worst. Truth is, hard as I have tried to make my expression match my biology, a majority of the people in my life don't even know how to categorize me. I'm not stereotypical "flaming", nor do I come off as pure woman, nor am I a "straight acting" guy...I am always put in my own "other" box. Which is fine. Thats where I see me too...except...the body doesn't match. That mismatch has been a constant source of misery in my life.

    So I love the optimism in this article...if these kinds of technologies were allowed to flourish, and were kept within the reach of people who are not wealthy...I guess it just gives me hope that one day I might be able to transition from M to I and finally feel that my outside is a better representation of my inside...though my sense is that even if such strides are made in bio-tech, the desire to be bi-sexed or Intersex, is so much on the fringe of the fringe that there might still be a great many obstacles to such a self-actualization.

      I know someone who identifies as a droid, neither An nor Gyn. Not everyone needs to have a gender, and it's just as wrong to force one on a non gender as to force the wrong one on a trans gender.

    Okay I'm reading your article 3 years after the fact in October 2013, and I don't think you're going to win your bet. If you had said "total sex change within twenty years", then maybe you'd be safer off. But I think 2020 is too optimistic.

    Every source I've read has said that we're decades away from engineering complex and fully-functional organs. Yes we've made advancements in tissue engineering, with manipulating stem cells, and other such things in regenerative medicine. But every expert says that we're decades away from creating transplantable heart, liver, etc. And that goes for reproductive organs, too.

    I'm sure by 2020 we'll see SOME stem cell-based therapies making it through clinical trials and start to be used more routinely. And I'm sure by 2020 we'll see SIMPLE tissues being printed and implanted, such as breast tissue, cartilage, and so on. Maybe things like 3D printed biocompatible scaffolds that are implanted and allow bone or cartilage or muscle to be regrown and vascularized, good as new, and then the scaffold dissolves away. And things like this could maybe be used for cosmetic surgeries, including facial feminization surgery, to give far greater results than ever before.

    But all of that is a far cry from what you're saying. I don't think it'll be possible to change your entire body structure by 2020, such as changing a person's pelvis, waist, and chest to create a more feminine or masculine physique. Yes, I'd LOVE it if it were possible, seven years from now, to go into a clinic and get my hips widened, my shoulders and waist narrowed, my hands and feet feminized, and so on. But I don't see it happening.

    And again, that's still leaving out the creation of functional, transplantable complex organs, including reproductive organs with reproductive capabilities. Not by 2020.

    I don't know if you'll see this but I would be interested in reading your reply. Hopefully you can tell me things that I don't know about and I might become convinced, but as it stands right now as I type this, I think 2020 is too optimistic.

    I may be an old baby boomer, but I don't see why people can't be engineered to be born without passing through our mother's hip. So may cesareans! Can't any organ be printed that does what a cesarean does? Does birth have to be so painful? Can't the belly open along a seam when needed?

    It's 2014, it's been a little over 3 years since you posted this.

    I literally have not seen anything improve in the past 3 years. People are too busy making games like Angry Birds and suing eachother for copyright infringement to care about something like this. I'm sorry, but let's be realistic here; you're off by a decade or two.

      Then I would have to say that you are not looking beneath the rather shallow surface to explore whats happening in the depths.

      Xb has listed several links above showing the progress we have made towards stemcell printed organs, among other things.

      Yes, this DOESN'T MAKE HEADLINES. But progress is being made in the basic technologies needed to make it happen. I might be off a bit, Yes. But by merely a few years at best, not decades.

    Valkyrie Ice,

    Have you heard about the new breakthrough in producing pluripotent stem cells? It's called STAP, which stands for Stress Triggered Acquisition of Pluripotency. It happened in Japan, and what they did was take some adult mouse cells and put them in an acid bath, and the cells turned into pluripotent stem cells.

    They haven't done it yet with human cells, but if it works for human adult cells, it would be exactly the sort of breakthrough you need for your prediction to come true.

      Yes, they have been working on this for quite some time, and making quite an enormous amount of progress over a period of just a few short years.

      And as such advances occur, now the various vested interests are attempting to outlaw 3d printing of biological materials, in an attempt to prevent "printing human organs" which would jeopardize the existing transplant industry.

      It won't end in a world wide moratorium, but it could indeed, as predicted, mean that the rest of the world will progress far beyond the USA in these technologies, while the US remains in a technological backwater due to vested interests doing their best to prevent progress which threatens their current profit models.

    In a speculative science story I read, two things came to mind:
    1. The stem cell and genetic modification could not only be used to regrow tissue and transplant them into bodies, but that they could also change the body physically. Imagine an MTF's penis retracting into the body to become the cliteris while they are doing their everyday life. Then their bone mass starts to shift. The question becomes, can we actually force the growth plates to accommodate the new structure?
    There's also the question of where should the stem cells be injected. Some say it should be done on the base of the spine, while others, like nanoscientists inject the serum anywhere.
    2. The changes can only occur with male-to-female patients, but not female-to-male ones. The stem cells can destroy the Y-chromosome and replicate an X, but they would not be able to convert the X into a Y. In the story, one of those patients was actually killed during that procedure, yet their motivation for change was because they wanted to stop being raped.
    So, I encourage all of you to take small steps to get to the solution, rather than taking big steps.

    Hello, my name is Vincent Phillip Neil Cross proud Canadian, and I am a FTM. I've been on HRT [Hormone Replacement Therapy] for over 3 and a half years, and this article has given me hope countless times, since I swore to wait for the field of the SRS to get better I helped getting funding for trans-people of my Province. If something like your saying happens and me being able to be a full fledged male, I would sign up for that in a heart beat, even if that means aiming to be the first human volunteer.

    http://gizmodo.com/doctors-can-now-grow-engineered-vaginas-in-women-1562001793

    "After decades of work, a team of doctors say they've successfully engineered vaginas that have been implanted and grown in women. The vaginas were grown in a lab from the female patients' own cells and later transferred to their bodies, where they formed into normal vaginas. The breakthrough bears some huge implications, too."

    Step by step.

    Next step, doing this with a male to female TG

    Still think I'm going to lose the bet?

    I just sort of skimmed this, so forgive me if I overlooked it, but what about genetics and epigenetics? You define a full sex change as imbuing an individual with the reproductive capabilities of the opposite sex. Granted, you could turn ovaries into testicles, or grow a woman new testicals from her stem cells, and these would fulfill the hormornal role of natural testicals, but so long as they're still genetically female the sperm produced by these testicals will not be viable. The same goes for eggs in men with artificial ovaries. As for men with bioengineered wombs, how would their immune system react to the fetus? Not well, most likely. The growing enfant would also put pressure on the man's internal organs, which in women causes flatulence, but in men may be life threatening. Even if bioengineering attains the sophistication you presuppose by the end of the decade (which I doubt), I still don't see how this would allow genetic females to father children, or genetic males to bear them.

    Also, everyone reading this should watch Repo!The Genetic Opera. It's awesome.

    When I first started reading this article, I hesitantly disagreed with you. I know it's always long odds to bet against innovation and the ingenuity of humanity. I considered the tech you propose too "frivolous" for funding. You provide concrete routes for development towards this technology. Interestingly, this is one of few medical technologies where arguments for enhancement may outperform those for treatment. Gender change itself seems to incorporate both treatment and enhancement. I'm curious as to analogous operations in other H+ technologies. While we are developing functional body modifications, are there yet other classes of transformation, more discrete than continuous? While we must wait and see if you are correct in your forecast, I hope you are. We must increase the Friendliness of our bodies as well as our bots!

    "Gender" and "sex" are not the same thing - check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_and_gender_distinction

    I think that in ten years, transplanting brains would be far more likely than engineered, fertile sex-reassigned bodies.

    I'm sure this will be possible if not by '20 then by '30 at most. But as a man, I wonder — why on earth to do that? Why on earth a healthy and successful inventor Martin Rothblatt made himself a Martine?

    Is that a kind of radical way to live a new life from scratch? Will we see healthy people going trans because of getting bored, some personal problems or "just to try"? Will we get used to such kind of a "personality reset" occurring as frequently as, for example, career change? (This doesn't even consider a possibility of personality multiplication...)

    I did fleetingly discuss the possibility of using gene therapy to change the xy to an xx, but as they are currently working on the ability to make artificial ovaries ( http://news.brown.edu/pressreleases/2010/09/ovaries ) I really don't see in vitro fertilization and implantation as being much of an issue for the first "generation" of MtF converts. As for FtM, the link about turning ovaries to testes indicated that the new "testes" performed normally, including sperm production. Eggs may be needed for a MtF because those form at an early stage of development, so it is uncertain that creation of them will be possible with the stemcell creation of ovaries. However that is likely to be addressed within the next 20 years.

    As for the effects of pregnancy on the male body? That is being studied, but as what I am discussing involves fully functional, and hormone producing ova, as well as full body tissue re-engineering (including such things as subcutaneous fat layers,) to make the body as fully female as you can on the tissue level, i.e. everything but DNA, I don't think it will be as difficult as you are thinking it will be, the woman's immune system is just as hostile to the fetus, which is why there is a placental barrier. As for the digestive tract, as males and females have the exact same structure, I really have to question why you would assume that they would react differently?

    I can understand your doubts, but I am taking into consideration a LOT more factors than just medical ones here, including such advances as terahertz computers, 3d printing, massive improvements in AGI, and a buildup in demand for "morphological medicine" due to the social effects of universal VR.

    It's impossible to list every factor that lead me to my conclusion in such a short article, but I see very little that indicates I will lose this bet, or if I do, that it will be by more than 1 to 2 years. Even if massive corporate pressure is brought to bear in the US to suppress stem cell therapies from replacing drug based medicine, China and other nations are unlikely to stop their research, and much of what I linked is occurring outside the US.

    As a (I am assuming) hetero male who did not suffer the genetic defect that causes the transgendered brain to receive the hormones during gestation that results in a opposite gender brain to body gender, I don't think you can truly understand exactly how much a transgendered person suffers from the mismatch of brain and body.

    Why did Martine change? Let me try to illustrate.

    Imagine that you woke up this morning and looked in the mirror, and you were not you. You had suddenly and spontaneously assumed someone else's features, someone who is essentially your exact opposite. If you were tall, you're now short, if you were skinny, you are now fat, if you had hair, you are now bald, etc.

    Wouldn't you want to get your "real body" back?

    For the transgendered, every morning is like that. Every look in the mirror, every reflection in someone else's eyes. From early childhood until corrective surgery, they are stuck in "someone else's" body.

    No matter how hard you try, I doubt you will truly be able to understand if you are not trans. It's not a "Personality reset." it's a "GODDAMMIT! THIS IS MY REAL PERSONALITY I'VE HAD TO FUCKING HIDE!!!!"

    Martine got to finally remove the mask she was forced to wear. That is all.

    Because some of us suffer from gender identity dysphoria. If you don't understand that, then you don't understand the need.

    Also, I don't think Valkyrie is saying this all happens solely for the purpose of gender reassignment, but that gender reassignment becomes feasible because all of this happens for other reasons anyway.

    i read a scifi novel about human survivors on the moon who did just that!

    You going to lose your bet, by 2020 we will be lucky if they are able grow a heart for a pig or something. Maybe, it will be possible to grow and implant simple organs like a penis, but that’s it.

    I could see functional organs being made and making the outwards appearance and functionality of the opposite gender possible in people, but would this technology also factor in or require the use of genetic modification? if gene therapy is possible to a limited extent now, will transgender operations and tech breakthoughs lead to use of gene therapy to finally change chromosomes, like change a male from XY to XX so they can, on a genetic level, become a female? is this even possible? and what could someone expect the body to react to having such dramatic changes imposed on it.

    *facepalm*

    Obviously, somebody watched "Star Trek" too much...

    In response let me repost in full this:

    ******************************
    Perceived Ludicrousness Levels - How People React To Technology

    by Joseph Friedlander.

    I was looking up NASA Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) from 1 to 9 to better characterize the state of some upcoming inventions, and I thought about using them to comment upon how ordinary mental resistance to new inventions proceeds. Note that the order parallels the order of the Technology Readiness Levels scale for ease of comparison. (Literally, I took parts of the defining phrases from the NASA paper by John C. Mankins of the Advanced Projects Office—hat tip to him. )

    Technology Readiness Levels Summary

    TRL 1 Basic principles observed and reported
    TRL 2 Technology concept and/or application formulated
    TRL 3 Analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof-ofconcept
    TRL 4 Component and/or breadboard validation in laboratory environment
    TRL 5 Component and/or breadboard validation in relevant environment
    TRL 6 System/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment (ground or space)
    TRL 7 System prototype demonstration in a space environment
    TRL 8 Actual system completed and “flight qualified” through test and demonstration (ground or space)
    TRL 9 Actual system “flight proven” through successful mission operations

    Perceived Ludicrousness Levels

    A parody and comment upon Technology Readiness Levels

    PLL 1 Basic principles observed and mocked— the very concept of space flight declared impossible, unthinkable etc. ‘My head hurts so it can’t work’. ‘I’d feel better in a universe where that was not possible, so go away, etc’.

    PLL 2 Technology concept and/or application formulated and disrespected—People cannot get their heads around a specific thing and so instinctively reject it—the idea of one small engine putting out in a few cubic meters, more power than an ocean liner. Or the idea that you can tell the Moon’s distance to a millimeter (vs. a few kilometers) etc. When people say ‘I can’t imagine that could work!’ the proper response is ‘You are making a comment about your mind, not the proposal at hand.”

    PLL 3 Analytical and experimental proof-of concept rejected—especially one that is built on at least 3 or 4 nested levels of needed inventions, ONE of which since developing it needs 3 or 4 levels of inventions successfully. But folks, really, this is not like multi-level marketing http://en.wikipedia....level_marketing where you need to find many levels of superb salesmen (hard to do) picked from random contacts among the general population (darn near impossible) and then they must find willing customers (even less probable than the above.) Here, you are inventing separate inventions and then combining them to a super invention. Many of the biggest projects have been of this sort, at least to make the industrial capabilities for the final project. The atomic bomb required Teflon (as insulation against uranium hexaflouride corrosion) klystrons and Yagi antennas. But unlike multi-level marketing, the inventions (if possible at all) have no power to resist you. They can be made or they can’t. So the combined chances of all working are low, but higher than people’s prejudiced instincts would suggest. In fact, I would argue that such multi-level tech architectures are risky but hold up the prospect of gain in proportion to their risk. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standing_on_t...lders_of_giants which gives perspective on the nested nature of scholarship and invention itself. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Program_Evalu...eview_Technique for when you don’t know how long a multi-level development project will take. With the first nuclear subs, the inertial navigation, reactor and air recycling systems all were the equivalent of inventions themselves—the systems as a whole, involving many separate inventions..

    PLL 4 Component and/or breadboard validation in laboratory environment—disrespect for “With THIS you’re going to do real challenge X in environment Y?”

    PLL 5 Component and/or breadboard validation in relevant environment—contempt for-- ‘Good against remotes is one thing, boy—good against the living is something else…”

    PLL 6 System/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment (ground or space) --contempt for a working model as just a toy.---The best example of this was Andrew ‘Slipstick’ Libby’s star drive in Methusaleh’s Children by Robert HeinleinBut prior to the test, pilot Lazarus Long thought it was just a lab-bench toy. . It was a little gizmo carried into space and attached to any part of the relevant ship’s mass—and it took an ocean sized generation ship to the stars. Consider that the first atomic bombs were hand-assembled on the tower or in flight for safety reasons (‘Not on my base you don’t…’) Doesn’t that make them prototypes? That doesn’t mean they cannot be perceived as ludicrous…

    PLL 7 System prototype demonstration in a space environment—lack of respect for a fully operational system without a track record. Now there can be reasons for this, based upon the learning curve of the early Space Race era.

    Since the original TRL system was written for NASA space devlopment, this is just a better version of number 6. Note the fact of ‘flown hardware’, and the cult of ‘man rating’. How can you prove a negative? The best way would be to buy rockets which have been flown by the CEOs of the development companies as a vote of confidence. That will either weed out the incompetent or provide a bureaucracy free way of telling if a rocket company is serious or desperate enough to make it work.

    Note also my ‘bucket test’. I once saw an estimate of a billion dollars for a simple crane for lunar use given the ‘cost plus’ environment of the major aerospace contractors. Just a crane to lift lunar station modules (based upon the space station) off of a lunar lander.

    The thing to recognize here is that for certain systems enormously cheap substitutes can be provided at a certain level of risk. My test for this is, you want to take this steel bucket for use on the Moon. ‘Will the bucket hold regolith?’ (moon dirt/sand/rocks). How much would that bucket cost put through their aerospace cost-plus model? I would not bet against a million dollars for a custom lighter, better, more useful bucket—that holds the exact same amount of regolith. PLL7 has sunk many a space company proposal, often with the deadly words, ‘’unflown hardware.” Many times that is a real concern. Sometimes it is not.

    PLL 8 Actual system completed and “flight qualified” through test and demonstration (ground or space) –pointing out the dangers of using the new capability-- ‘It will always be far more expensive to do things this way instead of old way X.’ ‘Do we really need to do this when our cities are in crisis/bankruptcy/open street war/etc.’ (The last can be modified to instead include the pet funding need of anyone else, including fellow scientists who hate manned space flight under the ‘fungibility delusion’ as I call it—that funding for X can be substituted to cause Y. Really, it goes back to the budgetmakers who start from scratch, and those scientists are betting they can outlobby every connected Wall Street firm, every retired ex General working for a defense contractor, every retired Senator working for a political action committee as a door opener, etc.

    PLL 9 Actual system “flight proven” through successful mission operations –Credit grabbing combined with niche-displacement and rent-seeking. “I always said it can be done.
    ****************************

    Based on your response, you're at a PLL of 2

    Your timeline is way too over-optimistic. I can't see a shred of evidence to suggest that a total gender change is possible within such a pathetic speck of time. I don't even expect it by 2050 or 2060 at the rate of progress we're going. Technological progress has been resting on the top of a late Industrial-era S-curve for 40 years now, and I don't expect things to pick up speed again until 2075 at the earliest. Prepare for 50 years of slow growth.

    I have to wonder how long it's been since you actually took a look at the real state of affairs.

    Disbelieve if you want, but the evidence was presented, if you failed to examine it, that's really not my fault.

    The common thread I have noticed about all the negative posts so far has been a complete lack of any evidence against my projections. All they have been so far is "The idea is beyond my ability to accept, therefore I dismiss it." As the post on perceived ludicriousness levels states, your inability to wrap your brain around the evidence is a statement about your brain, not the evidence presented.

    You believe we are at a technological standstill, present your evidence. Until then I have to stick to the evidence I am aware of which lead to the conclusions above.

    We're not totally at a technological standstill, it's just that I believe that we have already picked all of the low-hanging fruit from the technological tree, and that it's doubtful that we'll reach the higher branches without some sort of massive paradigm shift, like the full blossoming of advanced molecular nanotechnology, which seems to be 50-75 years away at the least. I could be wrong, though.

    Extropia DaSilva has an excellent essay on why the road to the future is not a smooth, straight line with the city lights on the horizon, but a winding, upward path with hundreds of interconnected branches leading to dead ends.

    Ray Kurzweil and the Conquering of Technological Mount Improbable.

    http://gwynethllewelyn.net/2009/08/19/ray-kurzweil-and-the-conquering-of-mount-improbable-an-essay-by-extropia-dasilva/

    "People often ask me for my timeframe of when such things as cures for aging, productive nanosystems and AGI will arrive. Unlike Kurzweil, who boldy declared ‘I set the date for the Singularity… as 2045’ (mark that in your calendar, folks) I refuse to speculate. We are not on a highway heading toward a clearly marked destination. We are in a mountain range, dwarfed by its peaks, dimly glimpsing shadowy summits through a fog of ignorance and presented with a bewildering array of twisting paths, most of which probably lead nowhere or to places we would be wise to avoid. We may conquer the peaks within decades, or we may find our efforts thwarted for centuries to come. But one thing I feel is certain. If it can be done, we shall not rest until we have conquered the peaks of mount technological improbable. To turn away from the challenge would be contrary to the inquisitive mind that is our species’ defining characteristic."

    I'm quite aware of Extie's essay, as I commented on it extensively.

    What most people who feel we are slowing down are doing is focusing on the end results of a research project. For example, nanotech. Because they are so focused on the "holy grail" of mature nanotech, they ignore all the developmental steps leading towards it as unimportant.

    This is far from the truth. Take a look at "additive manufacturing" which involves the use of 3d printers to make a product. Ten year ago, these were rapid prototypers, they made inexpensive plastic models that needed a lot of finishing work to be used in mockups. Today with laser sintering of titanium, they can be used to produce finished parts for rockets. The military is looking into using them to create onsite repair manufacturing plants for tank and equipment parts. If you check into the full uses of 3d Printers, you will see that we are on the verge of a manufacturing paradigm shift, in which the massive waste of subtractive manufacturing (i.e. taking a block of metal and whittling it down to a finished part) will likely be replaced with high speed manufacturing "printers" which use much less raw material, for a much more precisely controlled construction process that has the added advantage of being massively more flexible than current production lines. While these 3d printers are much larger scale than the "nanofacturing plants" of Drexler's dreams, they offer nearly the same benefits once they have become the dominant manufacturing model. From houses that can "printed" to planes, to car parts, and even to biological tissue, if you can print one, you can print a billion identical copies, using a fraction of the materials that you do with subtractive manufacturing, and with a proper layout, and a printer with multiple "print" materials, you can make items which are impossible to make with other technology, like an iPhone the thickness of a credit card that is a solid block of printed circuitry within a polymer shell, as well as the various bioprinter uses I discussed in the article. Think about this, if you can print a functioning heart, or kidney, what's to stop you from using that same printer to make a steak, or for that matter a tomato?

    People who think we've come close to hitting a technological wall are generally those who I've found to be ignoring all the "small things" to only focus on the "big things." But it's those small things that I usually look at first. You think we are decades away from nanotech? I don't, because I'm not looking at "Nanotech" in it's finished form, I'm looking at the hundred different puzzle pieces that together assemble to become "Nanotech" and when I look at all those pieces, I see that we are a lot closer than most people think. Before we will have the ability to universally place any arbitrary arrangement of atoms, we are going to be able to direct already existing "nanomachines" like stemcells and single cell organisms to perform specific tasks. We've already used bacteria to build a nanoscale structure, and we are creating synthetic DNA that functions like normal DNA when implanted. As we learn more about controlling single celled organisms, do you really think we will not find ways to use them to produce products that we can use? It's not "Drexlerian Diamonoid Nanotech" no, but it is PRACTICAL FUNCTIONAL NANOTECH nonetheless.

    We haven't even come close to a technological slowdown, let alone a standstill, UNLESS you look only at the "Final Stages" of a technology.

    Yes, it's a winding massively parallel maze of technology leading up to the "final stage" but that's exactly why we can't ignore what's directly happening right this moment and where it will likely lead to, not in twenty years, or thirty, or forty, but in five, and eight, and ten, because what is in the short term horizon is vastly more important and far more disruptive than anyone is willing to admit.

    Never ignore the practical immediate possibilities of "good enough" technology because you are obsessed with the shiny promises of "final stage" technology. "Good Enough" technology is all you need to produce the disruptive effects that are so often discussed. Ray, for all his brilliance, does it too. I tried to discuss the probable real impacts of VR with him, and why I believed it would be far more disruptive and occur much sooner than his timelines for GNR, and he dismissed me as well.

    I don't hold the same views as the majority of futurists, or the same views on disruptive technology being "comfortably far off in the future", which may be why R.U. publishes my articles. I look at too many tiny details, and see how they add up to believe that we've got a decade or two to adjust to a radically different technological and social reality. As I see it, we are about to run headlong into an avalanche of change in just the next decade, and several mountains worth of avalanches in the one after that. I don't give a date for the Singularity because I see it happening AS I WRITE THIS. It's already started.

    http://hplusmagazine.com/editors-blog/ten-thousand-waves-change-welcome-tweens

    So, basicly things are happening but it just happening at levels where the things aren't noticed...

    Makes sense, after all I believe modern biology only began it's infant stage not long ago. And when you think about how we now have advanced technology such as smart phones (iPhone being core) when computers where still developing at the turn of the century. Then it's not hard to think that the computer era might be about to be downplayed (but still present) by the genetic era.

    ... Of course it's still disapointing that the XOS (or whatever it was called) still lacks armour plateing for our squishy insides. Although popular demand will get that worked out by... hmm... 2012 perhaps?

    In any case 10 years still counts as a long time for me, but at least now I see why I haven't heard much in the way of things. But on the third hand (if there is one) someone could at least anounce we are only a year away from something (anything) on TV.

    "The proud tower" is a book written about this very thing.

    The armor plating on the exoskeletons has already been made, just look up boron nanotubes. They saturated a tee shirt in them and made it bullet proof.

    You don't hear about these things because it's not a simple case of "And today we made this breakthrough". It's way past that stage and up to "today we made 300 separate breakthroughs in 80 different fields."

    How do you report that? It would take a dedicated science news program that ran for hours, with the news interrupted a dozen times with "breaking reports" I can't even begin to really even link all the stuff I read daily in a dozen different science and technology sites. Hell, half the time I don't even make it through all the sites in a single day. Since I wrote an article on graphene six months ago, the progress made would fill six pages of links and that's just one single technology out of hundreds.

    Then you also have the fact that the average news spends more time talking about whether the Kardashians have had boob jobs then reporting on technology.

    The simple fact is that most people don't keep abreast of all the hundreds of thousands of different news stories in technology, they look at a few "big news" items, and ignore the rest. I can't even claim to be able to keep abreast, I simply read as much as I can and try to assemble coherent overviews of it. Today I read an article on 3d printing of organs, tomorrow I read one on stem cells in breast augmentation, days later I read one on bone repair using them. Keep reading enough small stories and a big picture builds up, providing you are willing to see things in terms of where they all lead, and how they fit together.

    But because there are SO MANY different pieces, it's easy for a lot of futurists to overlook them all. It's like they are walking in a forest, and ignoring the underbrush, and the small trees, and the vines, and the fact that they are walking up the side of a mountain, all because they are only paying attention to that tall tree in the distance.

    Sure, a pebble may not compare to a giant boulder. But ten thousand pebbles in an avalanche will do a lot more damage than that single boulder as they are heading down hill, and ten thousand small disruptive tech advances will add up to one hell of a lot of change.

    There is no way to share in full all I see changing over the next decade, it would take a book the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica just to detail in full what might change in the next three years, let alone the rest of the decade. And while the inertia of social resistance to change will succeed in slowing down some possibilities, there are so many others which we are likely to embrace immediately without even realizing their far reaching effects that it might make no difference.

    Suffice it to say that in ten years, gender changes might not even be considered newsworthy.

    In regard to the armor plating thing I meant having both the exoskeleton and armor plating brought together into one unit. And if that has happened then... Perhaps I can say I expirienced a part of what you're saying about how not everything can make the news. As for the boron Nanotubes, that makes me imagine that we might all be walking around in bullet proof trench coats someday (which sounds more amusing in my head). In any case I assumed that we had or have everything needed for a working combat suit (technology wise) yet it's still not in the field (as far as I can tell).

    As for the progress part, Just so I've got this straight; things are happening to head towards the goals such as the purpose stated in the article, but to see that progress you need to know what things would be involved in the finished product and what has already happened. Along with that it's hard to find out what parts are achived without looking in lots of places. (Which makes me think there should be place to find a streamlined cheaklist of breakthoughs needed to complete each goal). And with a large bulk of things taking place it's hard to note them all in a short time or without dedicated news teams.

    as for the question of "when complete 'gender' change will be possible", with all the things you noted that there is already results in, I myself would have bet around 5 years... that's me though.

    And while I'm here, I'm a little currious as to what you think the time frame for giving a human animal physical traits would be.

    The ARMOR is here already.

    The POWER SUPPLY is not.

    Until either hyper efficient fuel cells, pocket fusion generators, cold fusion batteries, or high capacity ultracapacitors have progressed to the point that they can power the suit without having to have a power cable trailing behind, we're kinda not going to see "field units"

    As for anthropomorphism, I don't see it trailing that far behind gender changes. Social acceptance of furries may lag a bit further behind, though VR is likely to make them a lot more common place, and such advances as QLEDs and clothing that incorporates synthetic muscles, and an EPOC style headset could make animatronic fursuits possible. There's already been a robotic arm created that duplicates the prehensile trunk of an elephant, and it could be pretty easily modified to a tail. QLED lenses built into a mask could also allow for extremely realistic anthro heads. Just need the powersupply, same as the armor.

    I hang out in an Anthro club in SL. I've had this convo before XDDDD. And a buddy of mine helped design the shuttle's arm for NASA.

    For the power source, it's worth them considering a portible desel electric generator; at least if they want a temporary solution. Although, being realistic it might need a bit more efficiency and some way to make it fit in the suit's weight range. Of course, I haven't memorised the suit's strength, so yeah. But I guess either way there's a wait. Don't see this solution working for the fursuits though.

    The current proposed solution is a set of HULCs connected to a diesel generator being carried by a Big Dog.

    Not really feasible under combat conditions.

    However, new battery tech is rapidly approaching the marketable phase with 10x to 100x the capacity of a current L-Ion battery. The power supply issue will likely be resolved by mid decade.

    However, that is for combat suits, which is a bit different than what I am talking about with fursuits.

    If you've read my article on Quantum Dots ( http://hplusmagazine.com/editors-blog/quantum-dots-future-vr ) then you should be aware of the potentials involved in QDot ink that can arrange itself form functional displays. In fact, I updated that article recently with a note about a company already developing QDot displays. QDots consume a fraction of the power of LCDs, have a much brighter display than OLED, and can produce far more accurate colors than either of them, while simultaneously being able to be printed on flexible substrates like plastic or cloth or paper.

    Now, combine that with a synthetic muscle fiber. This is another development that is becoming cheaper and cheaper to produce. But ignore it's use as a prosthetic device, think about a body suit made of it, which will cling to your body like a skin, without the heat trapping problems of latex. If you've ever seen Neon Genesis Evangelion, think plugsuits.

    Now combine that with a thin layer of CNT ultracap batteries all over the suit, and a surface covered in QDots mixed liberally with ultrahigh efficiency Solar cells. Now add a animal animatronic mask with eyes that are hi rez cameras and a jaw linked to the motions of yours. Add in a tail based on the Willow Garage "elephant trunk" robot arm, controlled by an EPOC style headset.

    That is what I am talking about as a fursuit in eight to ten years.

    Another trans person here (FtM) just agreeing, deeply and with intense feeling, with Valkyrie Ice. Describing gender dysphoria to someone who has never experienced it is something like describing a spiritual vision.

    The best way I've been able to communicate it to my sister is to draw a parallel between what I feel when I look in the mirror, and what someone who has lost a limb feels. You can still feel the "ghost" of that limb--may feel it itch or clench, the nerves are all still THERE in your brain, and you expect to see and feel it every single time you glance down. You may try to catch yourself with a foot that isn't there, and feel the shock all over again that it's gone. You may reach out with a hand that used to be there and be reminded, like the first day, that it's gone forever. The shock never actually goes away, it just becomes lesser and you try to live your life around it.

    Just imagine that is most of your body instead of just a hand--that it is your front or your back, your chest or hip shape, or your genitals--and that every time you reach down there is a moment where your brain EXPECTS to touch something and there is just empty air and you feel a horrible gasp like "OH MY GOD WHERE IS MY---" before you remember it's not there.

    That is daily life with gender dysphoria. Then add to that, it's not a VISIBLE disability like missing a leg, so other people don't 1) treat you like you have your legs or 2) even BELIEVE that you EVER had a leg. Try losing your family and friends because you insist that you REMEMBER having had a leg once and they deny to your face that you had these memories, that you're crazy, that you need Jesus, etc. etc. That's the best I can explain.

    Hearts are already being grown, just not actually transplanted yet. Right now they are trying to understand fully the repercussions of such grown hearts versus hearts that grow naturally in situ.

    "I will fear no evil" by Robert Heinlein was based on this theme.

    Thats because there are none. It's pure fiction.

    Research current at the time of the original article had already shown that the body relies on a steady diet of either male or female hormones just to continue to stay one gender or the other, and that the opposite hormones would begin transforming the body to the opposite gender.

    While xx and xy are indeed factors telling the body what hormones to produce, it looks like the hormones themselves are a much stronger factor, making genetic level changes less important than hormonal ones. As XB pointed out in another comment, one possible genetic therapy might be to simply include a gene that completely blocks the bodies ability to process one hormone or the other, but further research is needed.

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