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Archive for the ‘Neuroscience’ tag

Feb 11, 2017

Value Conflicts surrounding the Meaning of Life in the Trans/Post/Human Future

Posted by in categories: biological, cryonics, cyborgs, economics, environmental, ethics, futurism, governance, health, homo sapiens, law, mobile phones, policy, posthumanism, security, theory, transhumanism

Posthumanists and perhaps especially transhumanists tend to downplay the value conflicts that are likely to emerge in the wake of a rapidly changing technoscientific landscape. What follows are six questions and scenarios that are designed to focus thinking by drawing together several tendencies that are not normally related to each other but which nevertheless provide the basis for future value conflicts.

  1. Will ecological thinking eventuate in an instrumentalization of life? Generally speaking, biology – especially when a nervous system is involved — is more energy efficient when it comes to storing, accessing and processing information than even the best silicon-based computers. While we still don’t quite know why this is the case, we are nevertheless acquiring greater powers of ‘informing’ biological processes through strategic interventions, ranging from correcting ‘genetic errors’ to growing purpose-made organs, including neurons, from stem-cells. In that case, might we not ‘grow’ some organs to function in largely the same capacity as silicon-based computers – especially if it helps to reduce the overall burden that human activity places on the planet? (E.g. the brains in the vats in the film The Minority Report which engage in the precognition of crime.) In other words, this new ‘instrumentalization of life’ may be the most environmentally friendly way to prolong our own survival. But is this a good enough reason? Would these specially created organic thought-beings require legal protection or even rights? The environmental movement has been, generally speaking, against the multiplication of artificial life forms (e.g. the controversies surrounding genetically modified organisms), but in this scenario these life forms would potentially provide a means to achieve ecologically friendly goals.

  1. Will concerns for social justice force us to enhance animals? We are becoming more capable of recognizing and decoding animal thoughts and feelings, a fact which has helped to bolster those concerned with animal welfare, not to mention ‘animal rights’. At the same time, we are also developing prosthetic devices (of the sort already worn by Steven Hawking) which can enhance the powers of disabled humans so their thoughts and feelings are can be communicated to a wider audience and hence enable them to participate in society more effectively. Might we not wish to apply similar prosthetics to animals – and perhaps even ourselves — in order to facilitate the transaction of thoughts and feelings between humans and animals? This proposal might aim ultimately to secure some mutually agreeable ‘social contract’, whereby animals are incorporated more explicitly in the human life-world — not as merely wards but as something closer to citizens. (See, e.g., Donaldson and Kymlicka’s Zoopolis.) However, would this set of policy initiatives constitute a violation of the animals’ species integrity and simply be a more insidious form of human domination?

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May 13, 2016

Bringing The Dead Back To Life — Reanima Project / Bioquark Inc. Media Coverage

Posted by in categories: aging, bioengineering, biological, cryonics, disruptive technology, futurism, health, life extension, neuroscience, transhumanism

Fox 29 — Good Day Philadelphia

http://www.fox29.com/140735577-video

Reanimalogo

NBC TV 10

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Apr 20, 2016

Bioquark Inc. and Revita Life Sciences Receive IRB Approval for First-In-Human Brain Death Study

Posted by in categories: aging, bioengineering, biological, biotech/medical, cryonics, disruptive technology, futurism, health, life extension, neuroscience

Bioquark, Inc., (http://www.bioquark.com) a company focused on the development of novel biologics for complex regeneration and disease reversion, and Revita Life Sciences, (http://revitalife.co.in) a biotechnology company focused on translational therapeutic applications of autologous stem cells, have announced that they have received IRB approval for a study focusing on a novel combinatorial approach to clinical intervention in the state of brain death in humans.

This first trial, within the portfolio of Bioquark’s Reanima Project (http://www.reanima.tech) is entitled “Non-randomized, Open-labeled, Interventional, Single Group, Proof of Concept Study With Multi-modality Approach in Cases of Brain Death Due to Traumatic Brain Injury Having Diffuse Axonal Injury” (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02742857?term=bioquark&rank=1), will enroll an initial 20 subjects, and be conducted at Anupam Hospital in Rudrapur, Uttarakhand India.

brainimage

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Mar 21, 2016

Resurrection and Biotechnology

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, disruptive technology, Elon Musk, futurism, human trajectories, neuroscience, posthumanism, Ray Kurzweil, Skynet, transhumanism

“He is not here; He has risen,” — Matthew 28:6

As billions of Christians around the world are getting ready to celebrate the Easter festival and holiday, we take pause to appreciate the awe inspiring phenomena of resurrection.

crypt

In religious and mythological contexts, in both Western and Eastern societies, well known and less common names appear, such as Attis, Dionysus, Ganesha, Krishna, Lemminkainen, Odin, Osiris, Persephone, Quetzalcoatl, and Tammuz, all of whom were reborn again in the spark of the divine.

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Mar 9, 2016

Death Reversal — The Reanima Project — Research Whose Time Has Come

Posted by in categories: aging, biotech/medical, business, cryonics, health, life extension, neuroscience, posthumanism, science, scientific freedom

I have spent the last 30 years in various aspects of the biopharmaceutical industry, which for the most part has been a very rewarding experience.

However, during this time period, having been immersed many different components of therapeutic development and commercialization, one thing has always bothered me: a wide array of promising research never makes it off the bench to see the translational light of day, and gets lost in the historical scientific archives.

bqiinclab

I always believed that scientific progress happened in a very linear narrative, with each new discovery supporting the next, resulting ultimately in an eventual stairway of scientific enlightenment.

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Dec 22, 2015

Unlocking the Brain a Healing Promise for Those Who Suffer

Posted by in categories: neuroscience, science

Controlling the brain, consciousness and the unconscious through artificial means has long been a staple plot of science fiction. Yet history has a way of proving the fictional to end up as possible, and the future of brain-machine interface appears to hold greater promise than ever before.

Image Credit: Society for Neuroscience (SFN)

Image Credit: Society for Neuroscience (SFN)

According to Neuroscience Researcher, Yale University Fellow, and the Director of Yale’s Clinical Neuroscience Imaging Center, Dr. Hal Blumenfeld, we can now therapeutically (and safely) go inside the brain. As he reflected on the recent advances in neuroscience, Blumenfeld cited the progress that’s been made in the last decade in understanding the relationship between brain activity and conscious thought as one of the biggest breakthroughs. The ability to find the switch in the brain that regulates consciousness, and turn it on and off, is a major step toward the treatment of epilepsy, brain injuries and more, and could have a profound effect on mankind, he said.

“I think the exciting advances are really looking in the network approach to understanding the brain, looking at the brain as a network, and understanding that, for something as wide reaching as consciousness to happen, you really need the whole brain network or most of the brain,” Blumenfeld said. “There’s a switch deep in the middle of the brain that can either be turned on or off. When that gets turned on, the whole rest of the brain network, including the cortex, all start to interact and create consciousness. When that switch gets flipped off, consciousness is turned down and we lose consciousness.”

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Sep 15, 2015

The Imminence of Transhuman Technologies

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, ethics, existential risks, genetics, health, innovation, neuroscience

Progress always seems to ride a slippery slope. Innovations generally bring a plethora of potential benefits and just as many dangers, the obvious and the hidden. Technologies that tamper with our biological constructs is well underway in the neuro- and biotech industries. Historically, innovations in medicine have usually been beneficial on the aggregate.

But these new breakthroughs go beyond preventing and healing pre-existing causes. Transhuman technologies hold the promise of enhancing who we are as individuals and potentially as an entire species, and the decisions surrounding these technologies are far from simple. Dr. Nayef Al-Rodhan, a philosopher, neuroscientist, and director of the Geneva Center for Security Policy, believes we should be acting now to prepare for the inevitable and the unpredictable ramifications.

Framing Human Motivation

Considering our mixed track record as a species in rolling out groundbreaking innovations, discussing and finding potential solutions to many of the hidden dangers, and obvious ones, seems more than reasonable. One of the more puzzling questions is, where do we begin to have a pragmatic conversation on the ethics of these technologies?

There are plenty of theories about what drive human decisions, not least because human morality is infinitely complex and our minds crave frames through which to make sense of chaos. Dr. Al-Rodhan has his own conception of what drives human motivations. He makes meaning using the lens of “5 P’s” – Power, Pride, Profit, Pleasure, and Permanence – which he posits drive human motivations. “This is my view, the foundation of my outlook…this perceived emotion of self interest drives our moral compass.”

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Jan 29, 2015

Dr. Ken Hayworth, Part 3: If we can build a brain, what is the future of I?

Posted by in categories: augmented reality, biotech/medical, entertainment, existential risks, futurism, neuroscience, particle physics, philosophy, physics, quantum physics, science, singularity

The study of consciousness and what makes us individuals is a topic filled with complexities. From a neuroscience perspective, consciousness is derived from a self-model as a unitary structure that shapes our perceptions, decisions and feelings. There is a tendency to jump to the conclusion with this model that mankind is being defined as self-absorbed and only being in it for ourselves in this life. Although that may be partially true, this definition of consciousness doesn’t necessarily address the role of morals and how that is shaped into our being. In the latest addition to The Galactic Public Archives, Dr. Ken Hayworth tackles the philosophical impact that technologies have on our lives.

Our previous two films feature Dr. Hayworth extrapolating about what radical new technologies in neuroscience could eventually produce. In a hypothetical world where mind upload is possible and we could create a perfect replica of ourselves, how would one personally identify? If this copy has the same memories and biological components, our method of understanding consciousness would inevitably shift. But when it comes down it, if we were put in a situation where it would be either you or the replica – it’s natural evolutionary instinct to want to save ourselves even if the other is an exact copy. This notion challenges the idea that our essence is defined by our life experiences because many different people can have identical experiences yet react differently.

Hayworth explains, that although there is an instinct for self-survival, humanity for the most part, has a basic understanding not to cause harm upon others. This is because morals are not being developed in the “hard drive” of your life experiences; instead our morals are tied to the very idea of someone just being a conscious and connected member of this world. Hayworth rationalizes that once we accept our flawed intuition of self, humanity will come to a spiritual understanding that the respect we give to others for simply possessing a reflection of the same kind of consciousness will be the key to us identifying our ultimate interconnectedness.

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Apr 22, 2014

Could Mind-reading Technology Become Harmful?

Posted by in categories: counterterrorism, cybercrime/malcode, ethics, government, law enforcement, neuroscience, security, singularity, transhumanism

From CLUBOF.INFO

The increasing detail at which human brains can be scanned is bringing the possibility of mind-reading appliances closer and closer. Such appliances, when complete, will be non-invasive and capable of responding to our thoughts as easily as they respond to keys on a keyboard. Indeed, as emphasized in the Lifeboat Foundation’s 2013 publication, The Human Race to the Future, there may soon be appliances that are operated by thought alone, and such technology may even replace our keyboards.
It is not premature to be concerned about possible negative outcomes from this, however positive the improvement in people’s lifestyles would be. In mind-reading appliances, there are two possible dangers that become immediately obvious.

Danger 1: “Thought police”

Brain-machine interfaces have many possibilities that deserve to be explored by science. However, there are also potentially dystopian threats presented by this technology. Even technologies like personal computers, which were seen as liberating to the individual and not aligned with powerful governments, have also become windows that regimes can use to spy on their citizens.

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Jun 10, 2013

Intimations of Imitations: Visions of Cellular Prosthesis & Functionally-Restorative Medicine

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, chemistry, engineering, futurism, life extension, nanotechnology, neuroscience

In this essay I argue that technologies and techniques used and developed in the fields of Synthetic Ion Channels and Ion Channel Reconstitution, which have emerged from the fields of supramolecular chemistry and bio-organic chemistry throughout the past 4 decades, can be applied towards the purpose of gradual cellular (and particularly neuronal) replacement to create a new interdisciplinary field that applies such techniques and technologies towards the goal of the indefinite functional restoration of cellular mechanisms and systems, as opposed to their current proposed use of aiding in the elucidation of cellular mechanisms and their underlying principles, and as biosensors.

In earlier essays (see here and here) I identified approaches to the synthesis of non-biological functional equivalents of neuronal components (i.e. ion-channels ion-pumps and membrane sections) and their sectional integration with the existing biological neuron — a sort of “physical” emulation if you will. It has only recently come to my attention that there is an existing field emerging from supramolecular and bio-organic chemistry centered around the design, synthesis, and incorporation/integration of both synthetic/artificial ion channels and artificial bilipid membranes (i.e. lipid bilayer). The potential uses for such channels commonly listed in the literature have nothing to do with life-extension however, and the field is to my knowledge yet to envision the use of replacing our existing neuronal components as they degrade (or before they are able to), rather seeing such uses as aiding in the elucidation of cellular operations and mechanisms and as biosensors. I argue here that the very technologies and techniques that constitute the field (Synthetic Ion-Channels & Ion-Channel/Membrane Reconstitution) can be used towards the purpose of the indefinite-longevity and life-extension through the iterative replacement of cellular constituents (particularly the components comprising our neurons – ion-channels, ion-pumps, sections of bi-lipid membrane, etc.) so as to negate the molecular degradation they would have otherwise eventually undergone.

While I envisioned an electro-mechanical-systems approach in my earlier essays, the field of Synthetic Ion-Channels from the start in the early 70’s applied a molecular approach to the problem of designing molecular systems that produce certain functions according to their chemical composition or structure. Note that this approach corresponds to (or can be categorized under) the passive-physicalist sub-approach of the physicalist-functionalist approach (the broad approach overlying all varieties of physically-embodied, “prosthetic” neuronal functional replication) identified in an earlier essay.

The field of synthetic ion channels is also referred to as ion-channel reconstitution, which designates “the solubilization of the membrane, the isolation of the channel protein from the other membrane constituents and the reintroduction of that protein into some form of artificial membrane system that facilitates the measurement of channel function,” and more broadly denotes “the [general] study of ion channel function and can be used to describe the incorporation of intact membrane vesicles, including the protein of interest, into artificial membrane systems that allow the properties of the channel to be investigated” [1]. The field has been active since the 1970s, with experimental successes in the incorporation of functioning synthetic ion channels into biological bilipid membranes and artificial membranes dissimilar in molecular composition and structure to biological analogues underlying supramolecular interactions, ion selectivity and permeability throughout the 1980’s, 1990’s and 2000’s. The relevant literature suggests that their proposed use has thus far been limited to the elucidation of ion-channel function and operation, the investigation of their functional and biophysical properties, and in lesser degree for the purpose of “in-vitro sensing devices to detect the presence of physiologically-active substances including antiseptics, antibiotics, neurotransmitters, and others” through the “… transduction of bioelectrical and biochemical events into measurable electrical signals” [2].

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