Life Extension and Zombie Viruses
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One of the goals of transhumanism is life extension enabled by science and technology. What if we could extend lifespans by 50%? What would it mean? What would you do with the time? What difference would it make to your family? How would it feel to tell your children or their children about a time when people died much younger, and watch as they roll their eyes because early death is no longer a part of their worlds? What kinds of benefits would society be able to gain if people could live healthy, longer? What kinds of experiences would be shared? What would result from the added collective wisdom within the culture? Just think of it.
According to the World Health Organization, in 2012 the life expectancy at birth in Uganda is 56 years for males and 58 years for females. Poverty is a killer. It contributes to deaths from preventable disease.
According to biologist Dr. Ken Stedman of Portland State University, "vaccines saved clearly 6 million lives in the world last year alone." But many vaccines require refrigeration and impoverished areas lack the necessary infrastructure.
But he thinks he and his colleagues may have found a way to transport the vaccines without the need for refrigeration. They may have found a way to create "zombie viruses," that is, a way to suspend the active virus by coating it in silica so it loses its infectivity and then reversing the process.
I'm guessing that Dr. Stedman doesn't identify as a transhumanist. This discovery, however, is evidence that we are already living in a transhuman age and is another step toward the flourishing of humanity through science and technology.
Emerging technologies are helping us to move beyond the limits of our humanity. But transfiguration is more than rapid change. It is a consciousness that social justice is as important as scientific advance, that ending poverty is as important as ending premature death. A development that allows a greater number of vaccines to reach more people, helps us distribute the benefits of emerging technology to our human family in the developing world.