A Golden Age of Rejuvenation Publishing?

Dear Futurists,

We’re living in a time when more and more books are being published about human rejuvenation. These books address the scientific possibilities of reversing aging, and progress made in turning these scientific ideas into therapies that are practical and affordable. These books also explore the broader implications arising for the planet, for social mobility, for inequality, and for overall human wellbeing.

It’s hard to keep up with that flow of new content. That’s one challenge where I hope London Futurists can prove helpful. Read on…

1.) The Science and Technology of Growing Young – Sat 21st Aug

One thing that distinguishes the new book by Sergey Young – who will be speaking at our London Futurists webinar tomorrow, Saturday 21st August – is the effort the author has put into assessing the credibility of the anti-aging research and development initiatives of numerous start-ups, science labs, spin-outs, existing companies in the healthcare or high tech spaces, and various joint initiatives.

What Sergey offers is no mere catalogue, but a guide to understanding which initiatives show real promise – and which are, so far, less substantial.

In tomorrow’s webinar, Sergey will be drawing on his findings to share his views about the possibility – and ethical desirability – of people alive today living to 150, 200, and beyond.

He also has recommendations about what we can all do now, to improve our expected healthspans, while awaiting the availability of more comprehensive anti-aging solutions.

For more details of this event, and to register to attend, click here.

2.) A Paradigm Shift in Aging Research? – Sat 18th Sept

Some researchers in the anti-aging field promote a pluralist approach. They see aging as a combination of multiple failures in biological systems. They believe, accordingly, that a multiplicity of therapies will be needed to undo the various sorts of damage arising.

Other researchers promote a more single-minded approach. They believe that aging has a single dominant cause, and that a single type of biomedical intervention will be sufficient to significantly extend human healthspan.

Our speaker on Saturday 18th September, Dr Harold Katcher, is in this second camp. Dr Katcher gained more attention recently for his experiments in blood plasma transfusion that appear to have reduced the effective biological age of blood, heart tissue, liver tissue, and parts of the brain, by around 50%. That’s as measured by various “aging clocks” constructed from arrays of biomarkers. And that’s in rats, for the time being.

Independent publishers NTZ, which specialise in the rejuvenation field, are publishing a book by Dr Katcher, The Illusion of Knowledge. In his book, Dr Katcher explains his distinctive views on the science of aging, the experiments just mentioned, other aspects of his long career and personal philosophy, and his vision for what can, and should, happen next.

For more details of our event on 18th September, where we’ll be diving into some aspects of Dr Katcher’s book, click here.

Note that, due to scheduling issues, this event will be starting one hour later (at 5pm UK time) than is usual for London Futurists events these days.

3.) Anticipating new kinds of mind? – Sat 28th Aug

Alongside anticipations of radically improved health and vitality for our physical bodies, it’s important to consider possible radical changes in our minds. The same broad science and technology that seems poised to improve our healthspans also seems poised to improve capacities in reasoning, feeling, sensibility, and intuition. Once again, questions arise, not only about what might be possible, but also about what might be desirable.

Someone who has given a great deal of thought to the topic of future minds is Professor Susan Schneider, who was recently appointed as founding director of the Center for Future Mind at Florida Atlantic University.

Professor Schneider’s renowned 2019 book, Artificial You: AI and the Future of Your Mind, broke new ground with its analysis of a number of challenging questions about AIs and minds:

  • How might we tell if an AI is actually conscious, or is merely simulating consciousness?
  • How can we answer the objection that a version of our mind, uploaded into a new physical substrate, would just be a copy of us (instead of being us), and, indeed, might not even be conscious?
  • What are the pros and cons of designing an AI to be conscious?

On Saturday 28th August, Professor Schneider will be joining London Futurists to share some of her latest research, including the topic of the possible emergence of a “global brain”. She’ll also be answering audience questions about her vision for the Center for the Future Mind.

For more details of this event, and to register to attend, click here.

4.) Announcement: The Vital Syllabus

In our age of multiple pressures, dizzying opportunities, daunting risks, and accelerating disruption, what are the most important skills and principles to cherish and uphold?

The Vital Syllabus project, currently hosted on the London Futurists website, aims to answer these questions. The project aims, moreover, to draw attention to resources that can best assist students of all ages:

  • To acquire and deepen these skills
  • And to understand and embody the associated principles.

I first introduced the concept of the Vital Syllabus in my book Vital Foresight, published in June 2021. One of the key themes in that book was the urgent need to radically transform education. Improving the practice of education is an essential prerequisite to improving the future of humanity.

To be clear, this project is not just a matter of “education for people aged 5-18” (or similar). It’s a matter of people of all ages and in all walks of life, all around the world, being able to educate and re-educate themselves.

I expect the Vital Syllabus project to take around twelve months to reach an initial baseline. That baseline will feature excellent resources that have been identified or, when necessary, created from scratch, to support all twenty-four top-level areas of study envisioned in the Vital Syllabus.

It’s early days for the project, but you’ll see that there’s now an “Education” channel on the London Futurists slack, where ideas about this project can be exchanged.

Please do consider which resources you would recommend to be included on the Vital Syllabus pages. These should be resources that are free-of-charge, accessible, clear, engaging, precise, and authoritative.

A number of videos for the Vital Syllabus have already been created. They’re some way back from BBC documentary standard, but they’re good enough to convey important ideas to anyone interested in the subject matter.

You can view these videos on a dedicated page, https://londonfuturists.com/videos/vital-syllabus/.

For convenience, I append a selection of the videos that have been created for the “Singularity” topic area of the Vital Syllabus.

Look out for more to come! Maybe they’ll be videos that you help to create, or that you recommend from the huge banks of material that already exist online.

With best wishes

// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists

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