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Startup Promises Immortality Through AI, Nanotechnology, and Cloning
They plan to record personality, memory, and body function information, and recreate it.
One of the things humans have plotted for centuries is escaping death, with little to show for it, until now. One startup called Humai has a plan to make immortality a reality. The CEO, Josh Bocanegra says when the time comes and all the necessary advancements are in place, we’ll be able to freeze your brain, create a new, artificial body, repair any damage to your brain, and transfer it into your new body. This process could then be repeated in perpetuity.
HUMAI stands for: Human Resurrection through Artificial Intelligence. The technology to accomplish this isn’t here now, but on the horizon. Bocanegra says they’ll reach this Promethean feat within 30 years. 2045 is currently their target date. So how do they plan to do it?
The company writes on their website: “We're using artificial intelligence and nanotechnology to store data of conversational styles, behavioral patterns, thought processes and information about how your body functions from the inside-out. This data will be coded into multiple sensor technologies, which will be built into an artificial body with the brain of a deceased human.”
Advances in many new technologies including cryonics will be required for the plan to be successful. Getty Images.
This will be done with Humai company-developed apps. They’ll be collecting data on you for years. Over time, they’ll get a good model of who you are, what you know, what you’ve been through, and even your personality quirks. Then when the inevitable is upon you, cryonics will freeze your brain for storage while they prepare your artificial body.
How and of what the body will be made of hasn’t been elaborated on. Your brain will be thawed and any damage repaired via nanotechnology, borrowing information from backup files, if need be. “As the brain ages we'll use nanotechnology to repair and improve cells,” Bocanegra said. “Cloning technology is going to help with this too." Once your brain is transplanted into this new body, your brainwaves will control it, as if it was your own.
Futurists like Ray Kurzweil say the singularity will shortly be upon us. This is when AI becomes so advanced, that it can program itself to become better, smarter, faster, and therefore, beyond human control. Elon Musk says we’ll need to create neural implants that’ll link our brains with computers, in order to keep up.
We already have AI that’s so advanced, researchers don’t completely understand it. But this plan and Musk’s go beyond aligning us with technology. They ultimately seek to interweave us and advanced technology, to the point where we may not know where the person ends and the machine begins.
We can now hook the brain up to prosthetic limbs, even give them touch sensation. Getty Images.
This brings up all kinds of philosophical and existential questions. Are we merely data imprinted into neural networks? Will this become a service to lend immortality to the rich, while forgoing others? Bocanegra says it will be made available to everyone and should lead to other life-saving techniques and technologies. And you wouldn’t have to undergo the process, if you didn’t want to. “I don’t think of it as fighting death,” he told Popular Science. “I think of it as making death optional.”
How might the advent of such a technique change the allocations of resources on our planet? Eliminating death from the equation could see our world become overpopulated and resource scarce, should no controls be put into place, leading to social turmoil, even war. And would we still savor life, without an end to it, and work to make it as rich an experience?
Or would we become, as Freud once called us, prosthetic gods, completely bored because the world has become devoid of any discovery or surprise? Such concerns aren’t quite around the corner, and many critics have questioned the soundness of Bocanegra’s plan and the forthrightness of his motivations.
This isn’t exactly pie in the sky. But it isn’t doable yet either, and some wonder whether Humai’s timeline is sound. For instance, we haven’t yet successfully placed a human in suspended animation and revived them. And that’s just one piece of an exceedingly complex puzzle. According to Bocanegra in an interview with Popular Science, the most challenging part will be surgically implanting the preserved brain into an artificial body.
Other biological processes too would have to come with this new body. A lot of delicate factors would have to be understood and balanced properly. Consider that our behavior isn’t only regulated by our brain. Hormones for instance play a crucial role. Colonies of bacteria in our microbiome also contribute quite a bit to our neurochemistry. Yet, we know very little about how they work.
There’s a question as to whether the human mind can be digitized. Pixababy.
Experts questions whether or not it will be possible to download someone’s thoughts into a computer. "The technology which could extract legible thoughts and ideas out of an organ made of living tissue is nowhere near anything we have yet,” according to British software consultant Michael Maven.
He told the Huffington Post that Humai has just two researchers working on the project, and a total staff of five. An impressive source of funding and large teams of scientists would have to be employed for decades, to ensure such advancements, unless Humai is planning to piggyback on other’s work, or merely to collect payments from desperate parties hoping to escape their demise.
Even so, the trajectory of these technologies overall, will likely make such a feat possible in the distant future. And this isn’t the only ambitious project looking to cheat death. The 2045 Initiative, started by Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov, is also looking to develop technology, which would allow someone to transfer their personality into a “non-biological carrier” and extend life, perhaps indefinitely.
Futurist Ray Kurzweil thinks the first step is not only possible but inevitable.
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Richard Feynman once asked a silly question. Two MIT students just answered it.
Here's a fun experiment to try. Go to your pantry and see if you have a box of spaghetti. If you do, take out a noodle. Grab both ends of it and bend it until it breaks in half. How many pieces did it break into? If you got two large pieces and at least one small piece you're not alone.
But science loves a good challenge<p>The mystery remained unsolved until 2005, when French scientists <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~audoly/" target="_blank">Basile Audoly</a> and <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~neukirch/" target="_blank">Sebastien Neukirch </a>won an <a href="https://www.improbable.com/ig/" target="_blank">Ig Nobel Prize</a>, an award given to scientists for real work which is of a less serious nature than the discoveries that win Nobel prizes, for finally determining why this happens. <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/spaghetti/audoly_neukirch_fragmentation.pdf" target="_blank">Their paper describing the effect is wonderfully funny to read</a>, as it takes such a banal issue so seriously. </p><p>They demonstrated that when a rod is bent past a certain point, such as when spaghetti is snapped in half by bending it at the ends, a "snapback effect" is created. This causes energy to reverberate from the initial break to other parts of the rod, often leading to a second break elsewhere.</p><p>While this settled the issue of <em>why </em>spaghetti noodles break into three or more pieces, it didn't establish if they always had to break this way. The question of if the snapback could be regulated remained unsettled.</p>
Physicists, being themselves, immediately wanted to try and break pasta into two pieces using this info<p><a href="https://roheiss.wordpress.com/fun/" target="_blank">Ronald Heisser</a> and <a href="https://math.mit.edu/directory/profile.php?pid=1787" target="_blank">Vishal Patil</a>, two graduate students currently at Cornell and MIT respectively, read about Feynman's night of noodle snapping in class and were inspired to try and find what could be done to make sure the pasta always broke in two.</p><p><a href="http://news.mit.edu/2018/mit-mathematicians-solve-age-old-spaghetti-mystery-0813" target="_blank">By placing the noodles in a special machine</a> built for the task and recording the bending with a high-powered camera, the young scientists were able to observe in extreme detail exactly what each change in their snapping method did to the pasta. After breaking more than 500 noodles, they found the solution.</p>
The apparatus the MIT researchers built specifically for the task of snapping hundreds of spaghetti sticks.
(Courtesy of the researchers)
What possible application could this have?<p>The snapback effect is not limited to uncooked pasta noodles and can be applied to rods of all sorts. The discovery of how to cleanly break them in two could be applied to future engineering projects.</p><p>Likewise, knowing how things fragment and fail is always handy to know when you're trying to build things. Carbon Nanotubes, <a href="https://bigthink.com/ideafeed/carbon-nanotube-space-elevator" target="_self">super strong cylinders often hailed as the building material of the future</a>, are also rods which can be better understood thanks to this odd experiment.</p><p>Sometimes big discoveries can be inspired by silly questions. If it hadn't been for Richard Feynman bending noodles seventy years ago, we wouldn't know what we know now about how energy is dispersed through rods and how to control their fracturing. While not all silly questions will lead to such a significant discovery, they can all help us learn.</p>
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In a recent study, researchers examined how Christian nationalism is affecting the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A new study used survey data to examine the interplay between Christian nationalism and incautious behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The researchers defined Christian nationalism as "an ideology that idealizes and advocates a fusion of American civic life with a particular type of Christian identity and culture."
- The results showed that Christian nationalism was the leading predictor that Americans engaged in incautious behavior.
A pastor at the chapel of the St. Josef Hospital on April 1, 2020 in Bochum, German
Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images<p>Christian nationalists, in general, believe the U.S. and God's will are tied together, and they want the government to embody conservative Christian values and symbols. As such, they also believe the nation's fate depends on how closely it adheres to Christianity.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unsurprisingly then, in the midst of the COVID‐19 pandemic, conservative pastors prophesied God's protection over the nation, citing America's righteous support for President Trump and the prolife agenda," the researchers write.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Correspondingly, the link between Christian nationalism and God's influence on how COVID‐19 impacts America can be seen in proclamations about God's divine judgment for its immorality―with the logic being that God is using the pandemic to draw wayward America <em>back </em>to himself, which assumes the two belong together."</p><p>The logical conclusion to this kind of thinking: America can save itself not through cautionary measures, like mask-wearing, but through devotion to God. What's more, it stands to reason that Christian nationalists are less likely to trust the media and scientists, given that these sources are generally not concerned with promoting a conservative, religious view of the world.</p><p>(The researchers note that they're unaware of any research directly linking Christian nationalism to distrust of media sources, but that they're almost certain the two are connected.)</p>
Predicted values of Americans' frequency of incautious behaviors during the COVID‐19 pandemic across values of Christian nationalism
Perry et al.<p>In the new study, the researchers examined three waves of results from the Public and Discourse Ethics Survey. One wave of the survey was issued in May, and it asked respondents to rate how often they engaged in both incautious and precautionary behaviors.</p><p>Incautious behaviors included things like "ate inside a restaurant" and "went shopping for nonessential items," while precautionary behaviors included "washed my hands more often than typical" and "wore a mask in public."</p><p>To measure Christian nationalism, the researchers asked respondents to rate how strongly they agree with statements like "the federal government should advocate Christian values" and "the success of the United States is part of God's plan."</p><p>The results suggest that, compared to other groups, Christian nationalists are far less likely to wear masks, socially distance and take other precautionary measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Christian nationalism was the leading predictor that Americans engaged in incautious behavior during the pandemic, and the second leading predictor that Americans avoided taking precautionary measures."</p><p>But that's not to say that religious beliefs are causing Americans to reject mask-wearing or social distancing. In fact, when the study accounted for Christian nationalist beliefs, the results showed that Americans with high levels of religiosity were likely to take precautionary measures for COVID-19.</p>
Limitations<p>Still, the researchers note that they're theorizing about the connections between Christian nationalism and COVID-19 behaviors, not documenting them directly. What's more, they suggest that certain experiences — such as having a family member that contracts COVID-19 — might change a Christian nationalist's behaviors during the pandemic.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Limitations notwithstanding, the implications of this study are important for understanding Americans' curious inability to quickly implement informed and reasonable strategies to overcome the threat of COVID‐19, an inability that has likely cost thousands of lives," they write.</p>
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