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Markov
Metalhead

Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:01 am
Posts: 474
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:40 am 
 

Some of the science threads around the Tavern are pretty awesome and are chuck-full of great people, like "Let's Talk About Space."
Essentially, same thing around here. I'll just throw around a few thing about the topic here.

Let's talk about Biology. I love the field. People often say that Biology is nothing compared to Astronomy or something because it "never gives you anything new to talk about."
It's something I believe to be false. Any field that incorporates any technology within it changes every second with new discoveries. The field is very near to a sort of "epitome" or start of a very large wave of discoveries. The topic I really want to focus on is prosthesis, augmentation, integrating technology within our bodies, etc.

I recently watched a documentary called "The Transcendent Man" which is essentially based on Ray Kurzweil's book, "The Singularity Is Near"
Along with simply talking about his life, he also elaborates on all his theories, those proven and those yet to come. Essentially he's saying that the human race will one day become immortal and stop aging by integrating technology within our bodies. This has been going on a long time with prosthesis already, but he is basically saying that we'll be able to upgrade ourselves similar to how you can upgrade RAM in a computer. There is a lot of controversy surrounding his theories, such as the whole "Cyborgs vs. Humans" scenario. It's a really interesting film if you're up to watch it all.
Also, just for the purpose of relativity, I'll put out the fact that I love the video game series, Deus Ex. Notably, the latest one, Human Revolution touches many basic facts on the theories of Augmentation and integrating technology within our bodies. The year is pretty close to our present, 2027, and the world is basically exploding as Augmentation becomes the most controversial thing to expose to the world. The same controversy that was in the Ray Kurzweil documentary is also in this game, and it gives a sense of what you think it might be like. I believe that they're not very far off on how it will actually happen, if not just a little off by the year.

Recently there have been major advances within people who have been damaged by themselves or someone else, but have refused to give up a normal life. There was a short on YouTube about the "Eyeborg", who was a man who had replaced his missing eye with a video camera, and he "hooked it up" to his internal eye so he could see again in a sense. It's pretty interesting stuff.

Biology nerds flock to this thread! Any recent discoveries or anything related you would like to share?
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Marag
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:00 am 
 

I'm a biology nerd but I prefer fields like anatomy, ecology and zoology(the two latter being fields that most people think is useless bullshit) rather than tech shiny things. I like some genetics though.

I'll just say that I'm very skeptical about "augmentations". I can see the biotechnology field being of great help to those with physical disabilities, but hubristically tampering with our anatomy doesn't seem like a good idea in the long run

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Markov
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Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:01 am
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Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:28 pm 
 

That's the whole question with it augments, whether we shoud altar our perfectly good body parts in order to upgrade. I can see some good with this, such as the fact that we can't exactly understand the vast, vast, vast universe around us, let alone comprehend it, without some sort of upgrades to let us be Allowed to be able to understand more and more.
The bad with this is that it might truly just redefine what it means what it means to be human, let alone alive. This may not even be bad, just a step "forward" as some call it. Controlled evolution and the like.
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Turtle_Factory
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Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:14 pm
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Location: Puerto Rico
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:04 pm 
 

Nowadays there is a lot of controversy surrounding some of Biological Technology. Honestly, I'm just gonna start by saying I think it's a great idea to fix mother nature's mistakes in people (good prosthetic equipment, heavy skin treatments, stem cell research, and the like). It would be interesting to see if humanity will achieve a point in where they can actually find a way to increase their life time significantly. In a futuristic, Sci-Fi style scenario, I can't see myself liking the idea of choosing the best genes for my children, though. That is, before they are born. I mean, I wouldn't want them to be born sick or anything, but I just can't help but to find it a little eerie.

There have been amazing discoveries this last century, so honestly you can be sure the Biotechnology world will flourish at an an alarming rate.

In fact, I have heard before that people who are very, very old actually start 'getting younger'. By this I mean some people start growing black hair instead of white or something like that. I don't have a specific source for that right now, but I guess I could find it.
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HellBlazer
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Joined: Sat Aug 10, 2002 6:48 am
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Location: Canada
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 5:30 pm 
 

An interesting article about the state of the DIY biohacking scene, some pretty cool stuff in there: http://www.fastcompany.com/3001309/bioh ... innovation

The issue I see with the adoption of implanted augments in the general population is how invasive the process is. Let's say you get a surgery to have a super cool cutting-edge brain chip implanted into your head or whatever, then what happens the next year when the all-new and improved version comes out? You go through all that again? It seems like there's a large divide between the rate at which new gadgets are coming out (and it sounds like this will only get faster), and what should be semi-permanent technology like implanted devices. Deus Ex has been mentioned; the first game (which takes place after the latest one, DE3 being a prequel) touches on this, being set in a time in which there's a transition towards nanotechnology-based augmentations, people who have previously had mechanical augmentations are now stuck with them and starting to be considered primitive relics. Of course, it would be possible to use non-invasive/wearable "augments", though the possibilities are then somewhat lessened.

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StalUlv
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Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:42 pm
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Location: United States
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:50 pm 
 

I'm so glad that someone else in the world thinks about this kind of stuff as well. The implications though, are huge. What if we could augment our bodies with cybernetic components? If they extended our lifespan, how many of us would actually be okay with seeing others die all around us? I guess the cool thing about it would be that we could essentially live long enough to see the universe implode on itself (or expand out to infinity, but this is the wrong thread for that conversation).

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Nahsil
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Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2006 2:06 pm
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:13 pm 
 

I'm taking biopsychology right now, essentially just neurophysiology/chemistry, and I love it. The brain is fascinating.
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Markov
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Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:01 am
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Location: United States
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:09 pm 
 

HellBlazer wrote:
people who have previously had mechanical augmentations are now stuck with them and starting to be considered primitive relics. Of course, it would be possible to use non-invasive/wearable "augments", though the possibilities are then somewhat lessened.


That's a good point, I don't think I've thought about that before. However, I believe that it would be like that in the beginning, but not so much later on. The technology in our bodies would probably work similar to technologies in our computers or cars. It might require maintenance every once in a while, much like our bodies need it sometimes already. In the beginning, they'd probably have to do surgeries to find out regular problems already or to upgrade, but in the longer future, they'd probably be able to just upgrade the software to be more efficient.

Technology does move fast, and it'd probably work the way that it does right now. Take for example, you buy a computer with 6gb of RAM, and a 750gb harddrive. In the course of a year or two, you could probably get a computer for the same price as your previous one that has specs of 8gb and 1TB harddrive. At some points, it'd require replacing the computer and buying a new one. This isn't to imply that those people would be euthanized or anything, simply that they might have to undergo some surgery to upgrade to the latest hardware and firmware.

Oh, Hellblazer, Deus Ex 1 is my favorite game of all time. :) What a shame.

StalUlv wrote:
I'm so glad that someone else in the world thinks about this kind of stuff as well. The implications though, are huge. What if we could augment our bodies with cybernetic components? If they extended our lifespan, how many of us would actually be okay with seeing others die all around us? I guess the cool thing about it would be that we could essentially live long enough to see the universe implode on itself (or expand out to infinity, but this is the wrong thread for that conversation).


I think there would be a sense of Darwinism that this would inspire, as cruel as it may be. Those who are homeless and cannot afford these new technologies will probably die off faster than the augmented ones. It'd a pretty rotten idea, but it's bound to happen.

Also, to touch on your question of expanding out into space... Yeah, I believe that upgrading the brain is pretty crucial. We can probably understand some key points of the universe and existence, but we probably wouldn't be able to fathom it, remember it, apply it, etc. without some enhancements outside of our own natural bodies. On the accountable size of things we don't know what are in the universe (Dark Matter) is about 99.9% of what is actually out there. There's no way we would be able to understand that kind of stuff without SOME neuro-enhancement.
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Atrocious_Mutilation
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Joined: Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:51 am
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 3:35 am 
 

I'm a neuroscience/psychology type of guy. I find the brain fascinating and how a string of chemicals and electrical impulses causes complex functions like memory and emotion. But you need that biological background if you want to make sense of any of the new discoveries.
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false_icon
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Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2005 7:52 am
Posts: 492
Location: France
PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 11:09 am 
 

Markov wrote:
Yeah, I believe that upgrading the brain is pretty crucial. We can probably understand some key points of the universe and existence, but we probably wouldn't be able to fathom it, remember it, apply it, etc. without some enhancements outside of our own natural bodies. On the accountable size of things we don't know what are in the universe (Dark Matter) is about 99.9% of what is actually out there. There's no way we would be able to understand that kind of stuff without SOME neuro-enhancement.

From hypothesis to assertion :roll:

If people get software in them, be sure that someone will invent a virus for it. Consequences would be far worse than having to format a HDD.
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Ina_Dingir_Xul
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Joined: Fri May 15, 2009 8:44 am
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 3:02 am 
 

I did read about the recent Nobel Prize for medicine, where two scientists successfully de-differentiated specialized cells into embryonic stem cells. My biology syllabus in high school taught about stem cells and their characteristics, so this discovery wasn't that foreign to me. What made it amazing was how they managed to activate the relevant genes (only telomerase comes to mind here) to induce the change. The fact they did it to human cells makes it all the more plausible we can "re-grow" damaged parts of us using easily renewable cells like skin cells in the near future.

Then there was this article about 2 women from China using skin stem cells to re-build their faces after being disfigured. Wasn't a perfect replica, but it sure goes a long way.

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HellBlazer
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Joined: Sat Aug 10, 2002 6:48 am
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:11 pm 
 

I fear this thread will be even less active than the space thread, but here's an interesting news story... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20365355

Scientists have succeeded in restoring the use of their hind legs to dogs paralyzed due to spinal injuries by taking and growing their nose cells (the olfactory system being apparently the only part of the body where nerve fibres continue to grow in adults) and transplanting them to the injury site. Pretty cool; though as usual in this type of story, it's said that this kind of technology is still a long time away from being usable in humans.

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metaldiscussor666
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Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:09 pm
Posts: 560
PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:59 pm 
 

I would love to see them start extending the human life span, but I have absolutely no hope for society making any advances in that in our lifetime. It wouldn't surprise me if a bunch of conservative and/or religious people who hold power in the government are holding back funding for scientific research, stagnating progress. I can hear it now "y'all witches messin' with GOD'S DESIGN!" That's just the way our society is nowadays.
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FearTheNome
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Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2003 8:41 am
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 11:49 am 
 

metaldiscussor666 wrote:
I would love to see them start extending the human life span, but I have absolutely no hope for society making any advances in that in our lifetime. It wouldn't surprise me if a bunch of conservative and/or religious people who hold power in the government are holding back funding for scientific research, stagnating progress. I can hear it now "y'all witches messin' with GOD'S DESIGN!" That's just the way our society is nowadays.


What are you talking about? Average human lifespan HAS increased in our life time. In general, though, research to increase "healthspan", ie the amount of your life that you spend productive and mentally alert, has a lot more promise than research to increase maximum lifespan. Right not we're just getting better at keeping people alive long enough to die from cancer or alzheimer's.


Quote:
Yeah, I believe that upgrading the brain is pretty crucial. We can probably understand some key points of the universe and existence, but we probably wouldn't be able to fathom it, remember it, apply it, etc. without some enhancements outside of our own natural bodies. On the accountable size of things we don't know what are in the universe (Dark Matter) is about 99.9% of what is actually out there. There's no way we would be able to understand that kind of stuff without SOME neuro-enhancement.


Why? We understand plenty of complex and counter-intuitive physical phenomena without becoming cyborgs....
Dark matter is invisible but it has real-world properties that we can measure with our instruments, that's how we know it's there in the first place.

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