Rethinking the Promise of Genomics

I used to be a big believer in the enormous potential of genomics, and each of my two previous books, Fantastic Voyage and TRANSCEND: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever, had chapters devoted to this topic. The relevant chapter in the earlier book, Fantastic Voyage, published in 2004, was titled “The Promise of Genomics.”  My co-author in these books, Ray Kurzweil, is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost inventors and futurists, and he has made predictions for what is likely to occur in the future in the field of genomics . Yet, these days I find that I am feeling far less confident at least for the near term about the near term prospects for this “promise.”

“The Promise of Genomics” chapter in Fantastic Voyage contains a sidebar titled "Life as a Game of Cards” and in my public lectures on the topic, I would often display a slide showing playing cards from the gambling game of blackjack to emphasize this message.  “Until quite recently you have been forced to play this card game of life almost completely in the dark, unable to look at the cards you’ve been dealt… almost no one has ever had access to precise information regarding his or her own specific genetic code.”  We made the case that knowing one’s genetic makeup — what genes you carry — would allow an individual to make better lifestyle choices so that you can override your “bad genes” and emphasize the expression of “good genes."


Armed Robots Will Make Us Behave

In the future, security guards won’t be chubby failed cops getting minimum wage. Instead, they’ll be metal death machines that can spray 900 bullets per minute if you’re intruding without proper ID.
Robotic sentries are presently patrolling Israel’s 70-kilometer Gaza border, and South Korea’s   250-kilometer DMZ.  Russia  has developed a remarkably lethal beast — the MRK-27-BT — touted as superior to the USA’s SWORDS in Iraq, and Australia shot into the market with its ferociously-named "Redback Metal Storm." 
Border protection is just the beginning job for these brutal ‘bots.  Additional employment will be found at airports, banks, and all facilities critical to a nation’s security: nuclear power plants, oil platforms, military installations, desalination plants, dams, harbors, etc.


Happy Morning in Hedonistia, July 22, 2050

6:00: I wake up euphoric after a wonderful night of programmed dreams. After climbing out of my deprivation pod, I challenge my synthetic heart with 350 pushups — the recommended workout for a 114-year old. Next I gaze out the window of my 153rd floor home at the other Farmpartments, all energy self-sufficient and covered with dwarf fruit that the robo-monkeys pick for us in the night.  What should I do first?  Get my e-democracy voting over with, or loosen up with my Sexbot?  I chose the latter. As I grunt happily with my Margaret Sanger model, I hear my wife in the next room doing the same thing with her love-droid. Ha, ha. These were great 80th Anniversary presents for each other.

6:30: Now I’m voting. What a chore. With representative democracy, instead of the every-two-year ballot box, I now vote on numerous issues every single day.  My phone shows me myriad ways that the budget can be balanced. I check “b” and move on to the propositions.


This Robot Speaks Farsi

If Iran’s recently announced Surena 2 robot had its speech and vision modules in place, it would surely speak Farsi — Iranian Persian.  Looking somewhat like Honda’s ASIMO, Iranian state television claims the Surena 2 robot weighs 99 pounds (45 kg) and is 4.76 feet (145 cm) tall. It was developed by more than 20 robotics experts at Tehran University.


Endorphin Lifestyle: maximizing healthy pleasure

Our pituitary glands and hypothalamus contain 20 brain hormones, collectively called "endorphins." Released into our blood stream they provide us with a euphoric feeling that annihilates stress, depression, and chronic pain, thereby delaying the aging process.

Several drugs (opium, morphine, and cocaine) are endorphin-releasers; "endorphin" actually means "internal morphine."  Luckily, there’s also numerous "natural" ways to release endorphins, with no dangerous side effects.


Graphene Advances Fast

In a previous posts on Graphene, I stated that we were making numerous advances — so many that it sometimes seemed like new ones were coming almost every day.

Well, here’s a brief update which covers some of the advances towards graphene electronics that have occurred since my previous article.



Open Science Summit Starts “Organizational Revolution”

Open Source Science is on the rise and transparency and collaboration are the waves of the future. 

Now, following on the heels of the Humanity+ Citizen Scientist Conference, Joseph P. Jackson has organized an Open Science Summit 2010, coming up on July 29-31 in Berkeley, California.  Calling Open Science an "Organizational Revolution,"Jackson’s group promises to "Create an annual flagship event and news hub to build and maintain the identity of the international Open Science Movement.  Organize the various sub-communities into an effective, global, socio-technological force for rapid change in science/innovation policy." 


Simplified Humanism, Positive Futurism & How to Prevent the Universe From Being Turned Into Paper Clips

Eliezer Yudkowsky is an employee with the Singularity Institute, a non-profit devoted to developing human-level or smarter-than-human Artificial Intelligence from a self-improving seed.  The Institute also puts on the annual Singularity Summit, a conference that draws various scientists, futurists, businesspeople, and laypeople to discuss emerging technologies and their implications, especially as they relate to the potential enhancement of human intelligence or the creation of smarter-than-human Artificial Intelligence.  Yudkowsky is also known for his extensive blogging on the econblog Overcoming Bias, where he formerly blogged with GMU economist Robin Hanson.  Yudkowsky’s blog posts, which delve into philosophical issues surrounding rationality, identity, metaphysics, materialism, determinism, and quantum physics, to name a few, are archived at the community weblog Less Wrong.


The Interplanetary Internet: Towards a Matrioshka Brain?

 In 2008, NASA quietly announced the first successful test of a deep space communications network modeled on the Internet.  The new software protocol was jointly developed with Google’s Vint Cerf and is being deployed on the International Space Station as a first step in what could become an Interplanetary Internet.  The software protocol is an attempt to deal with the variable delays and intermittent connectivity of transmitting information through space.  If you think you’ve got problems today connecting to the Internet from your smart phone or home wireless network, imagine that magnified a 1,000,000-fold when information is being shared between the Earth’s Moon, Mars, and beyond.


Stem Cell Explosion

A revolution in medicine is occurring as stem cell research jumps out of the embryonic stage.  Startling advances in recent months are reported from multiple nations:
China: Stem cells help autistic, epileptic girl (February)
United Kingdom: Stem cells enable boy to receive a windpipe transplant (March)
USA: Man cured of HIV after stem cell therapy (April)
Israel: Progress in mass-production of stem cells (May)
Japan:  Stem cells repair heart attack damage (May)
United Kingdom: Multiple sclerosis halted by stem cells (May)
USA: Stanford stem cells may cure hearing loss (May)
Italy: 82 blind people have their eyesight restored via stem cells (June)
Germany: 50% of patients with lymphocytic leukemia are cured with stem cells (July )
India: Glioblastomas tumors linked to stem cell activity (July)
United Kingdom: New approach revealed for treating heart attacks with stem cell therapy (July)
Australia: Scientists uncover link between stem cell mutation and breast and colon cancer ((July)
USA: Breakthrough announced on stem cell therapy success with Parkinson’s DIsease (July)
India: Dr. J. Parthasarathy predicts cancer will be tamed in 10 years by stem cells (July)