Betting on Medical Progress

A perspective on some areas of modern medical research and development from Anders Sandberg: Branson's venture into stem cell banking "may turn out more useful than we could possibly think today because of advances in regenerative medicine that enable new uses of stem cells. It could also become totally obsolete if the advances go so far that normal cells can be turned into stem cells. ... This raises the interesting issue of gambling on future medical advances. Cryonics already does this in a spectacular and controversial fashion. Storing stem cells is a less radical gamble (we already know they can be useful for some things, but we don't know if they will ever prove useful for our particular maladies). ... Might we use known areas of medical progress to bank on things that are currently not useful but will be useful in the future? ... Maybe we should start documenting our healthy metabolome, kineome and proteome when we are young, somehow. Having a backup never hurt." If investment, competition and a lack of oppressive regulation can drive the cost low enough, all these things would be a bet worth taking.



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