“WINNER” Fiction Visionary – International Book Awards
“Istvan is the global leader of the transhumanist movement.” -The Mirror
“The movement’s highest profile US figure.” -Vice
Leading futurist and former National Geographic journalist Zoltan Istvan presents his award-winning, bestselling visionary novel, The Transhumanist Wager, as a seminal statement of our times.
His philosophical thriller has been called “revolutionary,” “life-changing,” and “a masterpiece” by readers, scholars, and critics. The novel debuts a challenging original philosophy, which rebuffs modern civilization by inviting the end of the human species–and declaring the onset of something greater.
Set in the present day, the novel tells the story of transhumanist Jethro Knights and his unwavering quest for immortality via science and technology. Fighting against him are fanatical religious groups, economically depressed governments, and mystic Zoe Bach: a dazzling trauma surgeon and the love of his life, whose belief in spirituality and the afterlife is absolute. Exiled from America and reeling from personal tragedy, Knights forges a new nation of willing scientists on the world’s largest seastead, Transhumania. When the world declares war against the floating libertarian city, demanding an end to its renegade and godless transhuman experiments and ambitions, Knights strikes back, leaving the planet forever changed.
Medical technology now verges on incorporating computers with the computational power of the famous Watson IBM computer and Internet-like communications directly into our anatomy. As the size and complexity of computers spiral downward, the wholesale use of these devices (as well as RFID-type technology) will become as common as a present vaccine. These initiatives will extend lifetimes, keep us younger longer and enhance our intelligence. Related to this development is the eventual merging of synthetic DNA and artificial intelligence that will bring new diagnostics, medical treatment and smart nano-prosthetics well within the horizon of the next generation. A prosthetic genome hastens the day when enhanced life forms, such as human organs, can be made entirely from a fusion of living organisms and non-living materials.
Just as computers, cell phones, the Internet, Google, and Facebook continue to change our social reality and some believe our brain biology, the author contends that the proliferation of in-the-body technologies will dramatically change everything from how we view each other, to how we fashion policy and law to guard against activities that could jeopardize our well-being, such as market forces may look to squeeze out efficiencies at the expense of performance and reliability or against those who, for instance, would dare to unleash digital viruses into a world filled with biomedical devices receptive to Internet-style communications.
Overtime our artificially controlled metabolisms may begin to alter our natural biological evolution. At what point does the widespread application of cyborg-assisted-life change our attitudes about what the notion of “human” means. The author focuses on the moral implications of the new technology, its influence over our future culture, personal identity and autonomy, and why we need to begin a national conversation now so that we can prepare for what is inevitably ahead.
I can only tell you what Fossel and other supporters of the telomere theory of aging probably would respond. The thing is that young cells are very capable of repairing damage and getting rid of debris. However, when cells get older they more and more lose this capability. Thus, damage is an effect of aging and not the cause. If you really want to cure aging, you have to control what causes aging. If you reverse aging, the cells regain their damage repair capabilities and probably will remove all the residues of past aging.
I am afraid that it might turn out that Aubrey de Grey will have a similar role as Marvin Minsky had in AI research. Minsky’s critique of neural networks, prevented serious advances in AI research for decades. It is now clear that symbolic AI was the absolutely wrong approach and didn’t produce any noteworthy results. Symbolic AI failed because researches totally underestimated the complexity of intelligence. Researches tried to master the effects of intelligence (intelligent behavior) instead of trying to figure out what “causes” intelligence in the brain.
The damage repair approach of SENS might fail for the same reason. They underestimate the complexity of damage causing processes and the damage repair pathways in the cell. Instead of getting to the root of the problem they try to deal with the effects.
In AI, only after the paradigm shift do we see serious progress. AI research is now all about neural networks. Imagine where AI would be now if all those AI researches didn’t waste so much time and money with symbolic AI. This can happen if influential scientists support the wrong theories and research money goes into the wrong direction. The good thing is that the paradigm shift in aging research is now on the way.
But then I am only a layman who is shocked by the complexity of cell biology. I only extensively studied the philosophy and the history of science in college. All I can say is from that perspective is that we are now seeing the typical signs of a paradigm shift which happens all the time in science. By the way, I also predicted the paradigm shift in AI in my master thesis more than 25 years ago. I just hope it won’t take so long this time.