The TransVision 2006 conference - with the theme of "Emerging Technologies of Human Enhancement" - finished up this weekend in Helsinki. The worldwide transhumanist community provides a great deal of drive and material support to healthy life extension initiatives such as the Methuselah Foundation and MPrize for anti-aging research. As in any distributed collection of like-minded folk, there's a great deal more talk than action, but don't let that fool you into thinking that no action is taking place.
Video, discussion and reports from the event are making their way around the web. Here is a small selection of links:
Many conference videos. Please do your part to take the bandwidth load off the organizer's servers; reformatting and posting to Google Video or YouTube would be very helpful.
"I'm about as un-transhumanist as can be: I don't even want my nipples pierced. I wouldn't mind living longer though" - Chris Gray at HETHR
Quite interestingly, even though these people are mostly known in transhumanist circles, I was suprised about their considerable agreement that life extension is the most pressing and important issue at the moment and must be prioritized accordingly
I got interviewed by an Italian TV crew making documentary about the post-human condition. They said the documentary will probably have couple of million viewers. It will be aired in November, the program is called "C'ERA UNA VOLTA" which I have no idea what it means. The interviewer said the documentary will donwloadable from the tv-station website www.rai.it (the Italian equivalent of BBC, the specific channel is RAI 3) once it comes out.
We had quite the speculative fest with Aubrey [de Grey] about the reasons why big pharma companies have yet to take on the issue of anti aging despite the tremendous potential of making major cash and their obvious advantage on that area.
The last point is an interesting one; I believe it has much to do with the extent of regulation in medicine. The present structure and culture of regulation revolves around defining conditions and preventing anyone from commercializing products to do anything other than treat the results of those conditions. If you can't commercialize, there will be no funding for research and development. If there is no funding, no-one will mount challenges to the status quo.
In a system that actively discourages innovation and paradigm change, there will be little innovation or movement towards paradigm change. Sad but true. This is why practical medical technology lags far behind the cutting edge of what we know to be possible: our access to the best and newest technologies is being regulated to death at every level of the research and development cycle.
Unregulated industries advance at the pace of science. Did you know that venture funded companies are developing quantum computers already, for example? It was a matter of a few short years to run from working out the math, running the first experiments, and then right into business. That simply doesn't happen in medicine anymore. It could, but it doesn't, because pointless, useless, wasteful layers of government intervention ensure that everything is slow, expensive and of lower quality.