Sam Ghandchiسام قندچيRay Kurzweil's Response to Genetics and Death Topic
Sam Ghandchi
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Yesterday I published an article entitled "Genetics Cannot End Death" (1).  Ray Kurzweil sent me the following response today which is being published here with his permission. Please note that the counter-argument of co-author of yesterday's article is also added below:




Ray Kurzweil, Monday, May 8, 2017, 11:16 AM EDT

"Sam, You are using an outdated concept of genetics. The broader term is biotechnology and the primary methodology is not changing genes at the beginning of life, but rather reprogramming the software of life through targeted interventions. There are many such interventions now reaching clinical practice. What is today a trickle will become a flood over the next ten years. Examples include reprogramming adult stem cells to rejuvenate the heart after a heart attack. Half of all heart attack survivors have a damaged heart and this could never be repaired before. Another example is growing organs with the patient’s own DNA which will overcome the extremely difficult situation today with very limited organ replacements. United Therapeutics, which I am on the board of, is pioneering this. It is being done successfully in animals such as pigs and is coming to a human near you soon. Another example is reprogramming the immune system to go after cancer which it ordinarily does not do. We are now curing people with stage 4 cancers and this is just the beginning. Health and medicine is now an information technology in that we are reprogramming the information processes underlying biology. It is, therefore, progressing exponentially. Ten years from now health and medicine will be transformed by biotechnology. You are correct that nonbiological interventions, in particular medical nanorobots, will come later, around the early 2030s. That will finish the job.  Best, Ray."


Co-author's Counter-argument, May 8, 2017, 11:37 AM EDT

It is exactly that reprogramming that has side effects such as cancer... and the reprogramming is based on genetics, of which, with its chemical foundation resulting in complex regulatory dependencies, one cannot simply account for all side-effects.


Ray Kurzweil, Monday, May 8, 2017, 11:44 AM  EDT

I don't agree with the co-author's comments. None of the examples I cited cause cancer or other negative side effects. They are overcoming long standing problems. Genes are strings of data. We are, for example, using deep learning to figure out how to modify genetic data for specific interventions.




My sincere thanks to Ray Kurzweil to give me the honor to comment on the topic and to allow me to publish it.

Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
7, 2017
*I am highly indebted to a young scientist who rightly deserves to be named the main author, but does not like his name to be mentioned.



1. Genetics Cannot End Death

Three days ago, in an article entitled "Why I am not a Future-ist," discussed crossing the chasm for futurism; noted Ray Kurzweil's "second half of the chessboard" story; and Ray was kind to remind me yesterday that his story was not just about Moore's Law, but "relates to his law of accelerating returns, of which Moore’s law is one of many examples".  This is an important issue, as futurism crosses the chasm, because the result of, having a specific future in mind and striving towards it, will be drastically different from being future-looking.  One major example of how the above distinction makes a difference, is the way we thought of ending death, just ten years ago, when we were basically focused on solutions coming out of genetic change and biology. For example, on November 17, 2007, had a TV interview in Persian with Ahmad Reza Baharloo on the Voice of America, VOA, entitled "Futurism and End of Death" and a detailed written document in Persian was simultaneously published.  At the time, I believed genetic engineering to play a major role in ending death. I no longer think that way, as discussed recently in a book entitled "New Variant to Meet Human Needs".  As presented in the above book, even, artificial, genetic modifications, are slow, and more importantly, they give rise to a myriad of side effects, as deadly as Leukemia, which make the results of genetic changes, more deadly, than the problems it is hoped they fix; and the multitude of side effects, are also exponential. This is why I now believe the path to ending death is through substitution of biological parts of human body with artificial solutions such as pacemakers. For example, we already have kidney dialysis machine, and can just miniaturize it, to be able to implant it in our body. Needless to say that new advancements of power source for prosthetics, that are being worked on, are as important as the functional design. Surely such solutions are superior to kidney transplanting which disables another healthy human.  Maybe, replacing the brain, artificially, will be, the last piece of the puzzle. Downloading our brain will not be easy, as the work of reverse engineering the brain by Ray Kurzweil has shown, but it is not formidable; humans have come a long way since the time, writing was the only way to download our thoughts beside using language to pass information verbally to our progeny. We have since had vinyl records, photography, and then magnetic and laser hard disks, SSD's, clouds, etc and these information download and storage technologies are making new milestones as fast as the cps rates (computation per second) of cpu and gpu's reaching the speeds, human brain processes data.

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