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Here is a post with many questions and few answers. It is a “think-piece,” designed to help us ponder the future of humanity.
Life exists, so it must have had a beginning.
I don’t know where life on earth began. Here on earth? On other planets of the solar system? Other galaxies?
I don’t know when earth’s life began. Was it a one-off, or has it begun here many times?
I don’t know how life began. What precipitated the merger of chemicals that led to the long-running time line leading to you and me.
I don’t know why life ages as it does. An insect may live a day; a mouse, a year or two; a human, a century; a tortoise, a couple of centuries; a tree, several centuries. Some cancers seemingly are immortal. Why the differences? What causes the differences?
Are there evolutionary purposes?
We living things all have one thing in common: We continuously battle mortality.
And yet, in one sense, nature has solved the problem. Nature has given us immortality. I am part of a line that extends back billions of years. I have been alive, or some past version of me has been alive, that long.
If life began just once (that “one-off” possibility) I am related to every living thing — to all the insects, mice, people, tortoises and trees in history. On one vast tree of life, I am a leaf.
Or if life began more than once, is it a forest of life, in which I am a leaf on one tree?
I have children, grandchildren, cousins, nieces and nephews, some of whom also have younger relatives. My long, multi-billion line of life will continue.
I don’t know exactly what life is. That is, I don’t know the boundary between life and non-life. Is life RNA? Is a virus alive? Here is a definition I found on the Internet:
Scientifically, living things have major unifying characteristics. They are composed of cells, have genetic material, need energy, reproduce, respond to stimuli, maintain homeostatis and adapt to their environment.
That author suggests life requires cells. If so, a virus isn’t alive. Is that the boundary? Cells?
Nature solves the mortality problem very simply, by what we call “reproduction”: An old cell divides and magically produces two young cells. What are the characteristics of “old” that allow a cell to divide and somehow eliminate those characteristics?
Some old men can produce viable young sperm, which when merged with an egg, young or not so young, will result in a zygote, the youngest of all cells.
What was lost or gained by that merger? Age was lost and youth was gained, but specifically what does that mean?
What are the characteristics of an old cell? In reproduction, does something “old” leave the cell? Does something “young” enter the cell? Or is this all accomplished by a simple rearrangement of existing parts?
It’s as though I purchase a new car, drive it for 20 years, then by a rearrangement of its parts, create two new cars.
At best, we have learned how to delay death. We live longer now. For billions of years, nature brought my life span to the mid-30s. Now depending on the country, people live to 80.
The big jump has taken place in the past century, thanks to science.
For billions of years, a comparatively short life span was part of human evolution, and being part of evolution, it had evolutionary benefits.
For reasons I don’t understand, dying after 30+ years worked for our line. Humanity was created and survived. Economically and evolutionarily, the formula was successful.
Now, in a relatively sudden change, we live more than twice as long. How did the shorter life span provide an evolutionary advantage? Would humanity be at less risk if we were, for instance, more like insects, who live short lives but reproduce faster? Or would we be safer to be more like trees, living even longer and producing many seeds?
Barring an earth-ending astronomical event, humanity will continue in some form. But in what form?
Will our longer life change our environment, and if so, how will our new environment change our life?
In this regard, we have published two articles: Are we the interim species? and The human interim species: If we can’t save the pale blue dot, how can we save ourselves?
They both discuss adaptation, primarily in terms of Artificial Intelligence — adapting our brains to changes in the environment by copying our brains into computers.
That is one form of life-extending evolution, whereby we become an electronic species. Here is another:
Woo Suk Hwang has been cloning domestic dogs for years and now wants to help endangered species.
His team also routinely clones pigs with genes susceptible to disease to be used for drug tests, and breeds of cattle prized for their meat. In total, the group produces about 500 cloned embryos every day across all species.
Next up is the Ethiopian Wolf. Low numbers of individuals creates low genetic diversity that can reduce the ability of a species to reproduce and survive.
The Sooam lab hopes to preserve these gene pools by cryogenically banking the cells of as many individual wolves as possible. If an animal dies in the wild, Sooam could thaw its stored cells, create clones using domestic dog surrogates, and reintroduce them.
The lab also hopes to start work later this year on the dhole, fewer than 2500 of which remain in the wild.
The dhole will test Sooam’s cloning expertise: it is more distantly related to the domestic dog and classified in a separate genus. Can cloning actually help conserve endangered species?
Luigi Boitani, a conservation biologist at the University of Rome, thinks cloning is a “waste of resources” that should be reserved for extreme, near-extinction situations.
Sooam says its main aim is to provide the technical means to make clones – it’s up to governments or conservation organisations to decide when to produce clones, at what scale, and how to reintroduce them. And canids may just be the start.
There is no deal-breaker for cloning humans, other than morality and scientific desire. Nature creates identical twins, daily. Presumably, we repeatedly could clone from individuals who live long, i.e. resist death from certain environmental challenges: Heat, cold, radiation, sunshine, lack of water, etc. Eventually, the entire species could own those attributes.
Or, we could evolve our species in another way:
First fully approved ‘off the shelf’ stem cells launch in Japan
The long anticipated age of the stem cell is upon us. Temcell prevents organ transplants attacking their hosts but will be followed by therapies for more common problems
AFTER decades of hope, hype and disappointment, say hello to the world’s first fully approved, mass-produced stem cell product.
Bags of Temcell are packed with 72 million living human cells, and will be launched in Japan later this month as a treatment for people whose organ transplants have turned against them.
The stem cells in Temcell come from healthy donors and can be multiplied to produce billions of standardised cells.
Developed by a company called Mesoblast in Melbourne, Australia, Temcell will be sold in Japan by JCR Pharmaceuticals. Mesoblast is now carrying out the extra trials that are needed if Temcell is to be approved by US regulators next year.
The launch is a milestone, because it propels stem cell therapy into the mainstream pharmaceutical industry. Stem cells from a donor can be cheaply manufactured in large batches, and supplied off the shelf using a business model much more like that for typical drugs.
In a few decades, stem cell therapy could be as normal as prescribing conventional drugs. Whether it is eyes, hearts, lungs or spinal cords that need repairing, living cells could be available to do the job, coming pre-packed in syringes or bags, or taken from centralised stem cell banks.
Temcell is just the first of a wave of products that bring this dream closer to reality. Mesoblast has similar products in advanced clinical trials for treating more common conditions, including chronic heart failure, lower-back pain and rheumatoid arthritis. And other companies are hot on its heels. “I believe this is the first of many successes that will be seen over the next several years,” says Stephen Huhn, chief medical officer of StemCells in Newark, California.
We can lengthen our lives by creating electro-mechanical proxies for our aging or damaged body parts — arms, legs, organs, Artificial Intelligence brains.
We can lengthen our lives by creating real replacements for our aging or damaged body parts via stem cell therapy.
We can lengthen our lives by adjusting our environment to be more agreeable to our cellular being, including not just protecting the ecology, but by the prevention of wars, murders, diseases and even impacts from meteors.
And if we give ourselves longer lives, will this gift have a black side? Will the earth become unsustainably burdened with humans? Or will we, to compensate, lose our sexuality and as a result, our diversity?
What will a world of humans having a median life span of 200, 300, 500 years look like? How will its economics reflect the new type of population.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Ten Steps to Prosperity:
1. Eliminate FICA (Click here)
2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D plus long term nursing care — for everyone (Click here)
3. Provide an Economic Bonus to every man, woman and child in America, and/or every state a per capita Economic Bonus. (Click here) Or institute a reverse income tax.
4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone. Click here
5. Salary for attending school (Click here)
6. Eliminate corporate taxes (Click here)
7. Increase the standard income tax deduction annually Click here
8. Tax the very rich (.1%) more, with higher, progressive tax rates on all forms of income. (Click here)
9. Federal ownership of all banks (Click here and here)
10. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99% (Click here)
The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.
10 Steps to Economic Misery: (Click here:)
1. Maintain or increase the FICA tax..
2. Spread the myth Social Security, Medicare and the U.S. government are insolvent.
3. Cut federal employment in the military, post office, other federal agencies.
4. Broaden the income tax base so more lower income people will pay.
5. Cut financial assistance to the states.
6. Spread the myth federal taxes pay for federal spending.
7. Allow banks to trade for their own accounts; save them when their investments go sour.
8. Never prosecute any banker for criminal activity.
9. Nominate arch conservatives to the Supreme Court.
10. Reduce the federal deficit and debt
No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. Monetary Sovereignty: Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia.
1. A growing economy requires a growing supply of dollars (GDP=Federal Spending + Non-federal Spending + Net Exports)
2. All deficit spending grows the supply of dollars
3. The limit to federal deficit spending is an inflation that cannot be cured with interest rate control.
4. The limit to non-federal deficit spending is the ability to borrow.
THE RECESSION CLOCK
Recessions begin an average of 2 years after the blue line first dips below zero. A common phenomenon is for the line briefly to dip below zero, then rise above zero, before falling dramatically below zero. There was a brief dip below zero in 2015, followed by another dip – the familiar pre-recession pattern.
Recessions are cured by a rising red line.
Vertical gray bars mark recessions.
As the federal deficit growth lines drop, we approach recession, which will be cured only when the growth lines rise. Increasing federal deficit growth (aka “stimulus”) is necessary for long-term economic growth.
•Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.
•Any monetarily NON-sovereign government — be it city, county, state or nation — that runs an ongoing trade deficit, eventually will run out of money.
•The more federal budgets are cut and taxes increased, the weaker an economy becomes..
•Liberals think the purpose of government is to protect the poor and powerless from the rich and powerful. Conservatives think the purpose of government is to protect the rich and powerful from the poor and powerless.
•The single most important problem in economics is the Gap between rich and the rest..
•Austerity is the government’s method for widening the Gap between rich and poor.
•Until the 99% understand the need for federal deficits, the upper 1% will rule.
•Everything in economics devolves to motive, and the motive is the Gap between the rich and the rest..