Category Archives: Transhumanism

Scientists create ‘sixth sense’ brain implant to detect infrared light

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A brain implant which could allow humans to detect invisible infrared light has been developed by scientists in America. Photo: ALAMY

A brain implant which could allow humans to detect invisible infrared light has been developed by scientists in America.

telegraph.co.uk | Feb 15, 2013

By Nick Collins

Scientists have created a “sixth sense” by creating a brain implant through which infrared light can be detected.

Although the light could not be seen lab rats were able to detect it via electrodes in the part of the brain responsible for their sense of touch.

Similar devices have previously been used to make up for lost capabilities, for example giving paralysed patients the ability to move a cursor around the screen with their thoughts.

But the new study, by researchers from Duke University in North Carolina, is the first case in which such devices have been used to give an animal a completely new sense.

Dr Miguel Nicolelis said the advance, reported in the Nature Communications journal this week, was just a prelude to a major breakthrough on a “brain-to-brain interface” which will be announced in another paper next month.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science in Boston on Sunday, he described the mystery work as something “no one has dreamed could be done”.

The second paper is being kept secret until it is published but Dr Nicolelis’s comments raise the prospect of an implant which could allow one animal’s brain to interact directly with another.

In the first study, rats wore an infrared detector on their head which was connected to electrodes in the part of their brain which governs touch.

When one of three ultraviolet light sources in their cage was switched on, the rats initially began rubbing their whiskers, indicating that they felt as if they were touching the invisible light.

After a month of training, they learned to link the new sensation with the light sources and were able to find which one was switched on with 100 per cent accuracy. A monkey has since been taught to perform the same task.

The study demonstrates that a part of the brain which is designed to process one sense can interpret other types of sensory information, researchers said.

It means that in theory, someone who is blind because of damage to their visual cortex could regain their sight using an implant in another part of the brain.

Dr Nicolelis said: “What we did here was to demonstrate that we could create a new sense in rats by allowing them to “touch” infrared light that mammals cannot detect.

“The nerves were responding to both touch and infrared light at the same time. This shows that the adult brain can acquire new capabilities that have never been experienced by the animal before.

“This suggests that, in the future, you could use prosthetic devices to restore sensory modalities that have been lost, such as vision, using a different part of the brain.”

The study is part of an international effort to build a whole-body suit which allows paralysed people to walk again using their brain to control the device’s movement.

Infrared sensing could be built into the suit to inform the person inside about where their limbs are and to help them “feel” objects.

Dr Nicolelis and his collaborators on the project hope to unveil the “exoskeleton” at the opening ceremony of the football World Cup in Brazil in 2014.

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The National Intelligence Council Predicts a Very Transhuman Future by 2030

exo-skeleton pushups
A soldier testing an exoskeleton prototype

vigilantcitizen.com | Jan 7, 2013

The National Intelligence Council is a high-level agency best known for producing National Intelligence Estimates – forecasts predicting future trends and issues of the next fifteen years. These extensive reports are produced every election year and are directly delivered to the  incoming President between Election Day and Inauguration Day. The latest NIC report released on December 2012 is called Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds (read it here) and discusses several issues such as the decline of the role of the United States as a global policeman and the rise of non-state actors in world politics. It also mentions another key issue: A fast-paced race towards transhumanism.

“Human Augmentation” is indeed considered a key issue in the next 15 years as new technologies will allow all kinds of modifications “ranging from implants and prosthetics to powered exoskeletons, human augmentation enhancing innate human abilities”. These augmentations would be used on soldiers, workers and anyone that can afford them, giving them “super-human” powers and capabilities, whether it be on a physical or a mental level.

Some might say: “That sounds cool VC, what is wrong with that? Why do you always say that it is wrong”. I personally never described transhumanism as being “right” or “wrong”, I do make these kinds of judgement calls. I however do have facts about the issue. First, transhumanism is undeniably being actively pushed by mass media and promoted as something that is necessary and inevitable in the future; Second, it is a logical continuation of the Luciferian philosophy held by the world elite where godhood and immortality is meant to be achieved by humans by their own means. In fact, Max More, a leading transhumanist philosopher considers himself as a “Luciferian”.

“The Devil—Lucifer—is a force for good (where I define ‘good’ simply as that which I value, not wanting to imply any universal validity or necessity to the orientation). ‘Lucifer’ means ‘light-bringer’ and this should begin to clue us in to his symbolic importance. The story is that God threw Lucifer out of Heaven because Lucifer had started to question God and was spreading dissension among the angels. We must remember that this story is told from the point of view of the Godists (if I may coin a term) and not from that of the Luciferians (I will use this term to distinguish us from the official Satanists with whom I have fundamental differences). The truth may just as easily be that Lucifer resigned from heaven.
– Max More, “In Praise of the Devil”.

Lastly, due to the prohibitive cost of “human augmentation”, transhumanism will only be available to the richest and most powerful people and the world (the world elite) and will created an even wider gap between the “masses” and the “elite”. The National Intelligence Council report states:

“The high cost of human augmentation means that it probably will be available in 15-20 years only to those who are able to pay. Such a situation may lead to a two-tiered society.”

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Military Must Prep Now for ‘Mutant’ Future, Researchers Warn

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Lockheed Martin tests its Human Universal Load Carrier exoskeleton. Photo: Lockheed Martin

Wired | Dec 31, 2012

By David Axe

The U.S. military is already using, or fast developing, a wide range of technologies meant to give troops what California Polytechnic State University researcher Patrick Lin calls “mutant powers.” Greater strength and endurance. Superior cognition. Better teamwork. Fearlessness.

But the risk, ethics and policy issues arising out of these so-called “military human enhancements” — including drugs, special nutrition, electroshock, gene therapy and robotic implants and prostheses — are poorly understood, Lin and his colleagues Maxwell Mehlman and Keith Abney posit in a new report for The Greenwall Foundation (.pdf), scheduled for wide release tomorrow. In other words, we better think long and hard before we unleash our army of super soldiers.

If we don’t, we could find ourselves in big trouble down the road. Among the nightmare scenarios: Botched enhancements could harm the very soldiers they’re meant to help and spawn pricey lawsuits. Tweaked troopers could run afoul of international law, potentially sparking a diplomatic crisis every time the U.S. deploys troops overseas. And poorly planned enhancements could provoke disproportionate responses by America’s enemies, resulting in a potentially devastating arms race.

“With military enhancements and other technologies, the genie’s already out of the bottle: the benefits are too irresistible, and the military-industrial complex still has too much momentum,” Lin says in an e-mail. “The best we can do now is to help develop policies in advance to prepare for these new technologies, not post hoc or after the fact (as we’re seeing with drones and cyberweapons).”

Case in point: On April 18, 2002, a pair of Air Force F-16 fighter pilots returning from a 10-hour mission over Afghanistan saw flashes on the ground 18,000 feet below them. Thinking he and his wingman were under fire by insurgents, Maj. Harry Schmidt dropped a 500-pound laser-guided bomb.

There were no insurgents — just Canadian troops on a live-fire exercise, four of whom were killed in the blast. The Air Force ultimately dropped criminal charges against Schmidt and wingman Maj. William Umbach but did strip them of their wings. In a letter of reprimand, Air Force Lt. Gen. Bruce Carlson accused Schmidt of “willful misconduct” and “gross poor judgment.”

Schmidt countered, saying he was jittery from taking the stimulant Dexedrine, an amphetamine that the Air Force routinely prescribes for pilots flying long missions. “I don’t know what the effect was supposed to be,” Schmidt told Chicago magazine. “All I know is something [was] happening to my body and brain.”

The Food and Drug Administration warns that Dexedrine can cause “new or worse aggressive behavior or hostility.” (.pdf) But the Air Force still blamed the pilots.

The Canadian “friendly fire” tragedy underscores the gap between the technology and policy of military human enhancement. Authorities in the bombing case could have benefited from clearer guidelines for determining whether the drugs, rather than the pilots, were to blame for the accidental deaths. “Are there ethical, legal, psycho-social or operational limits on the extent to which a warfighter may be enhanced?” Lin, Mehlman and Abney ask in their report.

Now imagine a future battlefield teeming with amphetamine-fueled pilots, a cyborg infantry and commanders whose brains have been shocked into achieving otherwise impossible levels of tactical cunning.

These enhancements and others have tremendous combat potential, the researchers state. “Somewhere in between robotics and biomedical research, we might arrive at the perfect future warfighter: one that is part machine and part human, striking a formidable balance between technology and our frailties.”

In this possible mutant future, what enhancements should be regulated by international law, or banned outright? If an implant malfunctions or a drug causes unexpected side effects, who’s responsible? And if one side deploys a terrifying cyborg army, could that spark a devastating arms race as nations scramble to out-enhance each other? “Does the possibility that military enhancements will simply lead to a continuing arms race mean that it is unethical to even begin to research or employ them?” Lin, Mehlman and Abney wonder.

The report authors also question whether the military shouldn’t get give potential enhancement subjects the right to opt out, even though the subjects are otherwise subject to military training, rules and discipline. “Should warfighters be required to give their informed consent to being enhanced, and if so, what should that process be?” the researchers ask.

The ethical concerns certainly have precedent. In a series of experiments in the 1970s aimed at developing hallucinogenic weapons, the Pentagon gave soldiers LSD — apparently without the subjects fully understanding the consequences of using the drug. During the Cold War U.S. troops were also exposed to nerve gas, psychochemicals and other toxic substances on an experimental basis and without their consent.

Moreover, it’s theoretically possible that future biological enhancements could be subject to existing international laws and treaties, potentially limiting the enhancements — or prohibiting them outright. But the application of existing laws and treaties is unclear, at best. ”Could enhanced warfighters be considered to be ‘weapons’ in themselves and therefore subject to regulation under the Laws of Armed Conflict?” the researchers write. “Or could an enhanced warfighter count as a ‘biological agent’ under the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention?”

Lin, Mehlman and Abney aren’t sure. To be safe, they propose the military consider several rules when planning an enhancement. Is there a legitimate military purpose? Is it necessary? Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Can subjects’ dignity be maintained and the cost to them minimized? Is there full, informed consent, transparency and are the costs of the enhancement fairly distributed? Finally, are systems in place to hold accountable those overseeing the enhancement?

Whether following these guidelines or others, the Pentagon should start figuring out a framework for military human enhancement now, Lin and his colleagues advise. “In comic books and science fiction, we can suspend disbelief about the details associated with fantastical technologies and abilities, as represented by human enhancements,” they warn. “But in the real world — as life imitates art, and ‘mutant powers’ really are changing the world — the details matter and will require real investigations.”

Risk of a Terminator Style Robot Uprising to be Studied

terminator

technorati.com | Nov 27, 2012

by Adi Gaskell

In the movie Terminator, machines had grown so intelligent that by 2029 they had effectively taken over the planet, seeking to exterminate what remained of the human race along the way.

While that is firmly in the camp of science fiction, a team of researchers from Cambridge, England, are investigating what risk, if any, technology poses to mankind.

The research, conducted by the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CESR), will look at the threat posed by technologies such as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and climate change.

While many of us may think it unlikely that robots will take over Earth, the scientists at the center said that dismissing such possibilities would in itself be ‘dangerous’.

“The seriousness of these risks is difficult to assess, but that in itself seems a cause for concern, given how much is at stake,” the researchers wrote on a website set up for the center.

The CSER project has been co-founded by Cambridge philosophy professor Huw Price, cosmology and astrophysics professor Martin Rees and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn.

“It seems a reasonable prediction that some time in this or the next century intelligence will escape from the constraints of biology,” Prof Price told the AFP news agency.

“What we’re trying to do is to push it forward in the respectable scientific community.”

Mind controlled android robot: Interactive Digital Human group, working towards robotic “re-embodiment”

Mind controlled android robot

Published on Nov 12, 2012 by Diginfonews

Mind controlled android robot – Researchers at the CNRS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory and the CNRS-LIRMM Interactive Digital Human group, working towards robotic re-embodiment

http://www.diginfo.tv/v/12-0199-d-en.php

DigInfo TV

BCI Controlled Humanoid Robot

New Gene-Altering Drug Paves Way for Mass Modification of the Human Species

Scientists are already making even more serious moves that will alter or ‘create’ humankind.

Activist Post | Nov 6, 2012

by Mike Barrett

We’ve seen genetically modified mosquitoes, genetically modified plants, and genetically modified cows, but could we soon be dealing with our own genetic alterations – genetically modified humans? As the months and years pass, scientists seem to be getting closer to ‘manufacturing’ humankind, with some of the most recent ‘advancements’ revolving around a new approved drug therapy that is designed to ‘correct genetic errors’.

Glybera, the drug which was approved in Europe on November 1, was created to combat against a rare disorder leading to disrupted fat production. Those suffering this rare disease possess what scientists describe as a damaged gene; the drug is meant to repair the damaged gene.

While the drug is only meant to be given to 1 or 2 out of every million people, it paves way for further experimentation into the field of biotechnology and human alteration. Soon, doctors may be giving out drugs to treat any ‘defects’ in genes, whether it be for the so-called ‘fat’ gene or another instance where a damaged gene is present. It could even apply to purported ‘criminal’ genes that are said to predict an individual’s future ‘life of crime’. It may sound crazy, but scientists are already making even more serious moves that will alter or ‘create’ humankind.

Further Genetically Modifying Humanity

Although gene-altering drugs are indeed helping to pave the way for further human genetic modification, it is only a single move in the game. Just a few months ago, we reported on the very first group of genetically modified babies being ‘created’ in the United States. The scientists stated that 30 babies were born using genetic modification techniques. In addition, 2 of the babies tested were found to contain genes from a total of 3 different parents. Genetecists state that this genetic modification method may one day be used to create genetically modified babies “with extra, desired characteristics such as strength or high intelligence.”

Interestingly enough, that day may come sooner than expected – at least for some of us. Even leading scientists are now pushing for selective breeding based on genetic makeup, ‘handpicking’ genes of offspring, and even developing cloning technology to ‘grow’ human hybrids and other bizarre experiments.

While gene-altering drugs and GM babies may appeal to the general public, scientists and biotech companies heavily funded by the government have been working on achieving a much larger feat -genetically modified humans in the form of ‘super soldiers’. These GM humans go beyond even the imagination, not requiring food or sleep to perform Olympic-style physical feats, while being able to regrow limbs that were destroyed by enemy fire.

The fact is that humankind has been moving toward a genetically altered existence for some time now, unknown by the general public. While the mainstream media will have you believe that drugs to repair damaged genes is the answer, no one really knows the kind of dangers that could come with such advancements. We’ve already seen how genetically modified foods can cause tumors and even early death – why wait to see what happens when altering the human genetic code.

Cyberdyne Unveils Improved Robotsuit ‘HAL’

Both the names Cyberdyne and HAL may not be the best names to imply a positive omen for the robotic suit, given the connotation to the Terminator and 2001: A Space Odyssey movies.

tomshardware.com | Oct 21, 2012

by Wolfgang Gruener – source: Cyberdyne

Japan-based Cyberdyne unveiled a new, radiation-protected version of its exoskeleton HAL, which is designed to be used for workers at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Both the names Cyberdyne and HAL may not be the best names to imply a positive omen for the robotic suit, given the connotation to the Terminator and 2001: A Space Odyssey movies, but the manufacturer says that its improved Hybrid Assistive Limb suit is an ideal fit to provide a human cyborg-type robot assist that can be essential in an environment such as the severely damaged Fukushima plant.

From Cyberdyne’s product description:

“When a person attempts to move, nerve signals are sent from the brain to the muscles via motoneurons, moving the musculoskeletal system as a consequence. At this moment, very weak biosignals can be detected on the surface of the skin. “HAL” catches these signals through a sensor attached on the skin of the wearer. Based on the signals obtained, the power unit is controlled to move the joint in unison with the wearer’s muscle movement, enabling HAL to support the wearer’s daily activities. […] Not only a ‘voluntary control system’ “HAL” [also] has a ‘robotic autonomous control system’ that provides human-like movement based on a robotic system which integrally work together with the ‘autonomous control system’. “HAL” is the world’s first cyborg-type robot controlled by this unique Hybrid System.”

The new version of HAL was shown at the Japan Robot Week 2012. In addition to the previous power units and exo-limbs, the new version is equipped with a 132-pound vest made out of tungsten to protect workers from radioactive radiation. Since the vest is largely supported by the powered units of HAL, Cybedyne says it has virtually no effect on the wearing person. There is also a ventilation system that prevents overheating and keeps a worker cool inside the suit.

Cyberdyne HAL Robot Suit and Cybernics research