Reports From Convergence 08

Over at Sentient Developments, George Dvorksy has a couple of posts up on the Convergence 08 unconference recently held in Silicon Valley.

Convergence08 examines the world-changing possibilities of nanotech and the life-changing promises of biotech.

A number of well known names from the healthy life extension community were there to present and exchange views.

Tanya Jones discusses Alcor, present and future:

Whole body vitrification: largely depends on the fluid which is a cryopreservant that prevents the formation of ice crystals in the body. Works particularly well for organs, which was its intended application. Automated systems are being built that are dramatically improving the perfusing process. Large animal tests are planned before it's used on a patient, giving unprecedented control over the perfusion process. It's build on bypass operations used in hospitals.

Day 2 closing panel on longevity

Gregory Benford: Benford talks about his research and its implications -- working to augment their genes in the defense of aging. Diabetes is a predictor of Alzheimer's; we share 75% of our genome with fruit flies. Fruit flies get diabetes and Alzheimer's.

Aubrey de Grey: Describes himself as being the most ambitious of the group. But he qualifies that by saying it's because he's the most pessimistic. We need a new approach that's more preventative than the geriatric approach. This has led Aubrey to the belief that we need to apply regenerative medicine to the problem of aging. He said that Terry Grossman and Ray Kurzweil recapitulated many of his views in their book."

Day 2 opening panel on synthetic biology

Benford sees benefits in the medical sciences and talks about advances in Alzheimer's and diabates -- in those fields that are somewhat stuck and not thinking about evolutionary biology in their research and development.

Benford says the European version of the precautionary principle is nothing more than, "never do anything for the first time." But if we're to make any progress about longevity, argues Benford, we need to exploit the entire suite of biology and what it has to offer.

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