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May 13, 2010

Again Transhuman Analysis is Overly Fixated on Genetic Engineering

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James Hughes has an article on Transhumanism on IO9 and takes a relatively pro-Transhumanist position and human modifications abolitionist Francis Fukuyama as his opponent...again

I understand why there is the genetic engineering fixation. There is the human word in the terms humanity, transhuman and posthuman. Humanity is usually differentiated from other species using biological and genetic definitions.

James Hughes said:
In the coming century we will begin to genetically modify ourselves to escape from disease, disability and death. We will begin ramping up our brains and bodies with designer drugs and nanobots


We have already been using medicine for hundreds of years to reduce disease, disability and death. More medicine will continue this progress and it is happening relatively slowly. We are hoping for better detection and treatments for cancer so that early successful intervention and prevention can be done to greatly reduce death rates. We are hoping for the SENS life extension project to allow for rejuvenation that fixes aging damage to enable life spans to increase 20-30 years and Aubrey de Grey is talking 50-50 chance of success in 20 years. So this is a 2-5 decade shift that is a continuation of regular medicine and science. However, even someone with delayed or reduced access to future medicine and gene therapy would not be noticably disadvantaged in the first 50-65 or more years of their lives.

We already have people who are genetically advantaged and live longer lives or have other advantages and people who have better healthcare. Those people are not dominating the people who have shorter lives. So the current variance of genetic and medical haves and the have nots is not the major driver of the world. Michael Anissimov looks at the James Hughes article and the response by Welsey Smith

Michael also had a prior list of the top transhumanist technologies and genetic engineering is one of the weaker and slower impacting technologies on the list.

Hughes and Smith then both fixate on divide of the wealthy and those who influence or control corporations and governments and the poor and currently less empowered.

Most people who are multi-millionaires or richer became wealthy by being self-employed, starting or running a business or having a good job and being good at investment.

Ten Roads to riches describes how the very wealthy got that way and strategies that might match up to more people who want to become rich. The wealthy are not working to keep people poor or preventing people from having expensive technology or medicine. People need to find a path that works for them to greater success and wealth. Some of the biggest difference makers for longevity are smoking tobacco, excessive drinking, lack of exercise and improper diet. Those things combined cost 12 years of life. This is not a secret. The expensive treatments are adding only a few months or years to the lives of very few.

A lot of genetics and medicine was not involved in people like Joe Francis (Girls gone wild) becoming a billionaire. The wealthy are not working to prevent access to advanced medicine and technology. The corporations who limit access or keep things expensive are those who have patents on non-generic versions of medicine.

The wealthy who run companies and provide jobs and corporate health programs are improving access.

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