A ‘Kill Switch’ for Rogue Microbes (by Katherine Bourzac, 08/20/2010, TechnologyReview)
“A new type of genetic switch gives bioengineers better control over microbes.
Biologists often speak of switching genes on and off to give microbes new abilities–like producing biofuels or drugs, or gobbling up environmental toxins. For the most part, though, it’s nearly impossible to turn off a gene without deleting it (which means you can’t turn it on again). This limits biologists’ ability to control how much of a particular protein a microbe produces. It also restricts bioengineers’ ability to design new microbes.” [read original article]
Israel’s Value to Transhumanism (h+ magazin)
„Imagine this sci-fi scenario: A small tribe with unique literature, customs and myths believes they’ve been “chosen” for a glorious destiny. But they’re driven out of their native land, forced to wander the globe for aeons, persecuted and annihilated, until they’re impelled by a utopian novel to return to their homeland. They name their new city after the inspirational book and their country becomes a technological powerhouse… but still, they’re surrounded by enemies. They wage eternal war, they hover between hope and apocalypse… their contributions to humanity are astounding but they continue to fear total extinction.“ [read original article]
Transhumanism: The way of the future (Natasha Vita-More, The Scavenger)
„The only way for us to survive is to evolve. Transhumanism – a movement supporting the use of science and technology to improve the mental and physical characteristics and capacities of humans – is the way forward, writes Natasha Vita-More.“ [read original article]
50 Science Sagas for 50 Years (Council for the Advancement of Science Writing)
„How do you summarize the past 50 years of discoveries in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics? That kind of challenge would be daunting for any one person – but fortunately, we have a huge crowd of science fans to help with the task.“ [read original article]
DNA Not The Same In Every Cell Of Body: Major Genetic Differences Between Blood And Tissue Cells Revealed
ScienceDaily (July 16, 2009) — „Research by a group of Montreal scientists calls into question one of the most basic assumptions of human genetics: that when it comes to DNA, every cell in the body is essentially identical to every other cell. Their results appear in the July issue of the journal Human Mutation. This discovery may undercut the rationale behind numerous large-scale genetic studies conducted over the last 15 years, studies which were supposed to isolate the causes of scores of human diseases.“ [read original article]
Stephen Hawking: “Humans Have Entered a New Stage of Evolution”
„Although It has taken homo sapiens several million years to evolve from the apes, the useful information in our DNA, has probably changed by only a few million bits. So the rate of biological evolution in humans, Stephen Hawking points out in his Life in the Universe lecture, is about a bit a year. „ [read original article]
ENGINEERING BIOLOGY – A Talk with Drew Endy (Edge)
„The only thing that hasn’t been engineered are the living things, ourselves. Again, what’s the consequence of doing that at scale? Biotechnology is 30 years old; it’s a young adult. Most of the work is still to come, but how do we actually do it? Let’s not talk about it, let’s actually go do it, and then let’s deal with the consequences in terms of how this is going to change ourselves, how the biosecurity framework needs to recognize that it’s not going to be nation-state driven work necessarily, how an ownership sharing and innovation framework needs to be developed that moves beyond patent-based intellectual property and recognizes that the information defining the genetic material’s going to be more important than the stuff itself and so you might transition away from patents to copyright and so on and so forth.“ [read original article]
Will designer brains divide humanity?
13 May 2009 by Andy Coghlan, NewScientist
„WE ARE on the brink of technological breakthroughs that could augment our mental powers beyond recognition. It will soon be possible to boost human brainpower with electronic “plug-ins” or even by genetic enhancement. What will this mean for the future of humanity?“ [read original article]
Neuroimplantate, pharmakologisches Menschendesign und Elitenzucht?
Jörg Auf dem Hövel (telepolis, 11.04.2009)
„Die Welt im Jahr 2070 – Teil 1
Die Cyborgs sind schon lange unter uns. Klinisch eingesetzte Implantate und künstliche Organe gehören zum Alltag der Krankenhäuser in den Industrienationen. Angefangen bei Linsen und Zähnen, zieht sich die Reihe über Knochenimplantate, künstliche Hüften, Gelenke, Sehnen und Brusteinsätze bis hin zu Membranen und Herzklappen. Dazu kommen in den letzten Jahren Methoden, die über Elektro-Stimulation und eingebaute Chips mehr oder minder direkt mit dem Gehirn Kontakt aufnehmen. Während die Ärzte forschen und operieren, diskutiert die techno-affine Öffentlichkeit die Phänomene dieser invasiven Technik unter Begriffen wie “Brain Computer Interface” oder Mensch-Maschine-Schnittstellen.“ [zum Originalartikel]
Die Welt im Jahr 2070 – Teil 2
“Der Erfolg der zukünftigen Implantat- und Pharma-Technik wird sich zum einen an dem praktisch Möglichen orientieren, zum anderen aber auch nach den Medien verhandelten Körperbildern richten. Diese Bilder wiederum entstehen in einem Meinungsraum, der den wirtschaftlichen Interessen der Medien, aber auch den realen Lebensverhältnissen Rechnung trägt. Anders formuliert: Je krisenhafter die Lebensbedingungen der Menschen (und das ist sowohl ökonomisch wie mental gemeint) sein werden, umso eher werden sie geneigt sein, den Verheißungen einer Technik zu glauben, die sie “weiter bringt”, nämlich “von hier weg”, und sie damit gleichsam erneuert.” [zum Originalartikel]
Durchbruch bei Stammzellenforschung? (Telepolis, Thomas Pany, 02.03.2009)
„Kanadischen und britischen Forschern ist es gelungen, Hautzellen, die Erwachsenen entnommen wurden, zu Stammzellen in der embryonalen Form zurückzuprogrammieren – ohne den bis dato nötigen Einsatz eines Virus.“ [zum Originalartikel]
Wachsende Zweifel am Wert von persönlichen Genanalysen (heisenews, 27.01.09)
„Genomanalysen werden immer schneller und billiger: 2013 soll ein Sequenzierer auf den Markt kommen, der ein komplettes Genom in 15 Minuten entziffert – für weniger als 1000 Dollar. Doch die Datenflut sagt wenig aus“ [zum Originalartikel]
Wie Maschinen uns eines Tages versklaven könnten (Susan Blackmore, spiegelonline, 21.01.2009)
„Früher streuten wir nur Gene – dann begannen menschliche Gehirne, Meme zu verbreiten: Ideen, Gedanken, Wörter. Die Evolutionstheoretikerin Susan Blackmore glaubt, dass wir mit Computern und Internet eine neue Evolution in Gang gesetzt haben, die wir eines Tages bereuen könnten.“ [zum Artikel]
Injektion von embryonalen Stammzellen in das Gehirn von Schlaganfallpatienten - In Großbritannen wurde der erste klinische Versuch genehmigt. (Florian Rötzer, Telepolis, 20.01.09)
„In Großbritannien könnte die Stammzellforschung einen Schritt weiter kommen. Genehmigt wurde von der Medicines and Healthcare Products Agency erstmals ein klinischer Versuch, bei dem vier Gruppen von jeweils drei Schlaganfallpatienten mit Hirnschädigungen über zwei Jahre embryonale Stammzellen injiziert werden.“ [zum Originalartikel]
Enhancing the species (Anjana Ahuja, Times online, May, 17.)
Our correspondent meets the controversial philosopher John Harris, who argues that we have a moral and ethical duty to improve the human race by biologically enhancing our children
The whiteboard in John Harris’s office declares: “John is cool.” Many hold a different opinion of one of the most controversial philosophers in Britain. Here are some of his views: abortion and euthanasia are both fine, desirable even; parents should be allowed to create designer or cloned babies; there’s nothing wrong with a drug-fuelled Olympics; scientists and medics should strive to make us immortal, even on a crowded planet; our bodies should be routinely plundered after death for organs, even if the dead and bereaved do not wish it; it is morally justified to compel people to participate in scientific trials, just as we compel them to do jury service. […]
Call for papers: Transhumanism? (Re-Public)
We invite contributions for our upcoming special issue entitled “Transhumanism?”. Is there a new challenge about to dominate our world? A challenge that appears more pressing than the fight against climate change, as demanding as the one against poverty, more complex than our current questions around bioethics.
Are we in a position to redefine, to drastically transform our very human nature?
This is a question formed in the last 20 years by an international movement, deriving from a scientific current, advocating that if the human is a result of an evolution process of millions of years time, nothing rationally preempts its conclusion. On the contrary, transhumanism proposes that the convergence of nanotechnologies, biotechnologies, information and cognitive sciences provide us with a new opportunity, as well as, the responsibility to collectively participate and assume this evolution: it is, more than ever, possible to “form a better humanity” meaning better health for individuals, longer life expectancy, a more effective control of themselves, through enhanced skills, capacities and capabilities.
The special issue will attempt to investigate the influence of transhumanism and the new questions that its poses. […]
The Future of Man – How Will Evolution Change Humans? By Peter Ward (Scientific American)
Contrary to popular belief, humans continue to evolve. Our bodies and brains are not the same as our ancestors’ were—or as our descendants’ will be
People commonly assume that our species has evolved very little since prehistoric times. Yet new studies using genetic information from populations around the globe suggest that the pace of human evolution increased with the advent of agriculture and cities.
If we are still evolving, what might our species look like in a millennium should we survive whatever environmental and social surprises are in store for us? Speculation ranges from the hopeful to the dystopian. [...]
Telomerase verlängert das Leben
Florian Rötzer 21.11.2008 (Telepolis)
Spanische Wissenschaftler konnten an krebsresistenten transgenen Mäusen zeigen, dass diese eine bis zu 50 Prozent längere Lebenszeit haben, wenn das mit Telomerase verbundene Krebsrisiko unterdrückt werden kann
Wissenschaftler haben nicht nur Supermäuse geschaffen, die wesentlich leistungsfähiger sind ([local] Genveränderte Supermäuse) sie haben nun auch gentechnisch veränderte Mäuse entwickelt, die krebsresistent sind und weitaus langsamer als gewöhnliche Mäuse altern. Würden Menschen ebenso verändert werden, dann könnten sie mit einer [extern] durchschnittlichen Lebenszeit von 120 Jahren rechnen. [...]
h+ transhumanist magazine launched
Humanity Plus (formerly the World Transhumanist Association) has launched h+, a stylish, web-based quarterly magazine that focuses on transhumanism, covering the scientific, technological, and cultural developments that are challenging and overcoming human limitations.
Edited by the legendary RU Sirius, co-founder and editor of the seminal Mondo 2000 magazine, and beautifully designed by virtual worlds artist D.C. Spensley, the magazine’s first issue features cutting-edge ideas and interviews with leaders in longevity, neuroengineering, nanofabrication, open-source robotics, science fiction, and other breakthrough areas. [...]
If we can enhance our species – make it live longer and resist disease – we should do it (timesonline)
In the future there will be no more human beings. This is not something we should worry about.
Much of today’s scientific research may enable us eventually to repair the terrible vulnerability to which our present state of evolution has exposed us. It is widely thought inevitable that we will have to face the end of humanity as we know it. We will either have died out altogether, killed off by self-created global warming or disease, or, we may hope, we will have been replaced by our successors.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill would allow for inter-species embryos that will not only enable medical science to overcome the acute shortage of human eggs for research, but would provide models for the understanding of many disease processes, an essential precursor to the development of effective therapies. [...]
Insurance Fears Lead Many to Shun DNA Tests
Victoria Grove wanted to find out if she was destined to develop the form of emphysema that ran in her family, but she did not want to ask her doctor for the DNA test that would tell her.
She worried that she might not be able to get health insurance, or even a job, if a genetic predisposition showed up in her medical records, especially since treatment for the condition, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, could cost over $100,000 a year. Instead, Ms. Grove sought out a service that sent a test kit to her home and returned the results directly to her. [...]
Facing the Challenges of Transhumanism: Philosophical, Religious, and Ethical Considerations
By Hava Tirosh-Samuelson
What is Transhumanism?
The term ‘transhumanism’ denotes a relatively young and still changing ideology that posits a new vision of humanity as a result of the confluence of advancements in the life sciences, neurosciences, genomics, robotics, informatics, and nanotechnology. These developments include new kinds of cognitive tools that combine artificial intelligence with interface technology, molecular nanotechnology, extension of human life span, genetic enhancing of human mental and physical capacities, combating diseases and slowing down the process of aging, and exercising control over desires, moods, and mental states. Those who enthusiastically promote these developments in biotechnology and bioengineering maintain that the accelerating pace of technological development and scientific understanding will usher in a new age in the history of the human species during which people will live longer, will possess new physical and cognitive abilities and will be liberated from suffering and pain due to aging and disease. In the transhuman age, humans will no longer be controlled by nature; instead they will be the controllers of nature. [...]«)
The Unofficial Stephen Jay Gould Archiv
(»Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) was among the best known and widely read scientists of the late 20th century. A paleontologist and educator at Harvard University, Gould made his largest contributions to science as the leading spokes-person for evolutionary theory. His monthly columns in Natural History magazine and his popular works on evolution have earned him numerous awards and one of the largest readerships in the popular-science genre — penning altogether over twenty successful books throughout his career.
For more than 30 years Gould served on the faculty at Harvard, where he was Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology, Professor of Geology, Biology, and the History of Science, as well as curator for Invertebrate Paleontology at the institution’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. On this website you will find articles by Gould and his colleagues focusing on the finer points of his work, the nature of life’s evolution, and the general ontogeny of evolutionary theory. [Link]«)
The REAL Evolution Debate
Everything you always wanted to know about evolution but the mass media wouldn’t tell you.
(»You’ve seen the papers. You’ve watched the TV reports. You know how the debate on evolution is always framed. Darwin vs. God. Science vs. religion. Evolution vs. creationism. Reason and rationality vs. belief and faith. That’s the evolution debate we hear about in the mass media these days, the one that is causing consternation everywhere from Kansas school boards to Pennsylvania courthouses. [...]«)
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