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November 19, 2007

Interviewed by the speculist.com

I was interviewed for a podcast by the speculist.com website

Some of things that I talked to them about was my view that many people are already making the choice to enhance some aspects of their body and mind using invasive and non-invasive approaches.

Collective individual choices for future technology and the choices that are not commonly understood in the context of changing technology. We are choosing our future now.
- 3 million in the USA choose steriods despite health downsides and
access restrictions. 4 out of 5 for appearance reasons
- 7 million worldwide use steroids
- 11 million (in USA) choose cosmetic surgery despite results that are sub-optimal and risks to health
- dietary supplements are a $22+ billion industry
- Maybe 1 in 10 use drugs for better results on academic tests.
It is not about "intelligence enhancement" it is about business productivity
and academic performance.
The drugs seem to help the performance of most students, but some do worse under its effect. Kids took practice tests with and without. If they thought it helped
then they took it for the test
Some felt it gave them a 200 piont boost on SAT scores

- non-invasive can work too (wikipedia, google etc...)
- cheap mind machine interfaces for PS3, Xbox etc...
these can mostly be grouped under crappy beta versions of human enhancement.

Better versions of those kinds of enhancements are in the works:
Myostatin inhibitors are better and safer than steroids.
Fake myostatin inhibitors are sold now.
Millions will use it for muscle disease, to counter muscle wasting from old age and for performance and appearance enhancement.

Apparently 4 times stronger effect than high dose steriods.
Need to consume (eat more food) more - which is why evolution did not select those genese, but can help increase muscle for fat burning to counter obesity. So not only is it safer it could provide health benefits to the obese, elderly and those with muscle diseases. Since 2005 there have been human trials.

Gene therapy -genetic engineering can provide more endurance, radiation resistance, life extension.

Unevenness of advancement- life extension
There is already more than 30 year life expectency differences between
different groups in the USA and around the world. There is 0.1-0.3 years added to life expectancy every year.

Many people do not want futurists to predict anything controversial or exceptional. Very rapid technological advancement, really powerful technology (AGI, versions of nanotech, certain space technologies, certain medical advancement etc...) While exceptional technology and breakthroughs are not what commonly occur every day, it is the exceptional breakthroughs that transform society over the longer term and we as a society need to lower the development barriers.

Yes, certain choices and societal forces could cripple the development of those technologies. The Space program has not advanced because all the plans have not been focused on making big and meaningful things happen. Actual purpose political pork. My goal is to think of ways of getting around those blockages and to push for a better future and to spot movement around blockages that are already happening. Part of the reason is that I think the current societal choice/technology mix is not sustainable and people ignore the negatives of the current balance. 56 million dead/year is not something to be tolerated. People ignore the slaughter and the real dangers of the now. Nuclear power could kill 2000 people over 40 years when there is a really bad reactor design but that has to be compared to 1 million/year from coal
and 3 million/year from air pollution.

I think of the Tom Hanks character in Saving Private Ryan on the opening Omaha beach sequence. Some soldiers mistakenly believed it was better to hide behind the steel crosses on the beach or to not creatively attack the pill boxes that had them pinned down. I think of the difficult goals of getting space colonized in a major way or
conquering diseases and making significant progress against age deterioration as pill boxes that have us pinned down on a dangerous beach. Just because the time has been stretched out to decades, centuries, millenia does not mean that we are not collectively on a dangerous beach. We can and should do a lot over the next 50 years and beyond. Every year 55 million people die from all the various causes and we are straining the ecosystem and facing growing dangers from the power of technology. Stepping back from where we are now to a "sustainable" position would be like retreating from the beack back into the sea. It is a bad plan because it would cost 5.5 billion lives and only save about 1 billion. Breakthrough out of being pinned down on the beach does not mean that everything is safe and utopia. There is still a struggle beyond with more risks and challenges. However, pressing forward in the most creative way with the best plans is the best course of action.

In terms of a radically better future, why not choose the best plans we can come up with. Why stick to clearly failed or flawed plans just because that is what we have been doing ? If something is not working as well as it could then there should be change. The choice for the future does not have to be perfectly safe. It just has to be better overall than the current situation and path. We can and should do a
lot better.

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