Ask us absolutely anything!
By Hank Hyena
This is a slightly revised transcription of a speech Hank Hyena will give at the H+ Summit.
Let’s begin with Russia, the biggest nation in land mass, the 3rd largest empire in history, with an astounding resume of huge projects, ambitions, and imagination — all partly derived from the fact that Russia has a Messiah streak as wide as Siberia. Here’s a quote by a Russian writer describing his homeland: “The Russian soul is thirsty for the salvation of all of mankind and the creation of Heaven on Earth.” This Russian Messiah complex merges nicely with transhumanism - here’s 3 categories:
Cryonics. Russia is the first place outside the USA where you can get a deep freeze, at KrioRus Labs near Moscow. Neurosuspension is available there for less than $10,000 euros a head, a fabulous price, just a fraction of Alcor’s. Russian’s neighbor - Finland - might follow Russia into cryonics next.
Philosophy. TransHumanism owes a huge debt to the Russian cosmoist thinkers of the late 19th and early 20th century, primary among them is Nicolai Federov, 150 years ago, Federov predicted organ transplants, cloning, immortality, space and ocean colonization. His most astounding desire though was his wish for revival of the dead, resurrection! returning to life everyone that ever lived. Federov believed this was the “common task” of all humanity, he saw it as a unifying planetary struggle against death. He believed all human evil and suffering was rooted in the curse of mortality and our responsibility was to re-animate everyone.
Nanotechnology. Russia was a leader in the space race and now they’re determined to compete in nanotech. Russia has invested $11 billion in nanotech, Dubn - their research city on the Volga - has one of the world’s densest concentrations of scientists, Russia has cash flow due to energy exports, and Silicon Valley venture capitalists have recently visited. Russia has been in a science decline since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but it wants to bounce back — who are its nano competitors? The USA is #1, followed by China, Japan, Germany.
Next Italy, interesting for two reasons,
First: Italy has one of the lowest birthrates in the world - a miniscule 1.2 for this allegedly Catholic country. The Italian population is dwindling AND aging — So the question is- who’s going to assist all these elderly Italian? The answer is: Italian-made service robots, Italy’s demographic resembles Japan - tiny birthrate, aging populations. Japan is the world leader in service robots, and Italy will seek to be a European leader, an obvious decision because it has a large domestic market available.
Second: Italy is having an H+ political debate - The “Italian TransHumanist Association” is accused of neo-fascistic elements - totalitarian ideas. There’s a link now in the Italian mind between transhumanism and neo-fascism. This brings up the question, is “Humanism” a core value of TransHumanism? Is H+ by definition related to liberalism, tolerance, democracy, egalitarianism? or is that just wishful thinking? The Italian debate is a precursor of what will happen globally as Transhumanism gets a thorough political critique. There are anarcho-transhumanists, libertarian transhumanists, democratic transhumanists, socialist transhumanists, Techno-authoritarians, techno-utopians. If you read comments on hplus magazine you’ll find readers who hate transhumanism, they think H+ will provide immortality for only the wealthy, they think eugenics will be enforced, democracy abolished, masses turned into automatons obeying robot leaders. The Italian discussion will ripple over to the USA, we’ll be asked to clarify our political views. Do we need to be in agreement? Is there room for all political persuasions in Transhumanism, Or is there emphatically not?
Next, South Korea. SK has the fastest internet in the world, its a leader in e-democracy, innovation, memory chips, display screens, cell phones, and plastic surgery - that’s all great, but today, I want to commend South Korea on their construction skills - SK builds the biggest boats and tallest skyscrapers. And now,there’s two new structures that SK is working on that have world-changing potential — FarmScrapers and Domes. FarmScrapers, like SK is planning in Incheon, will grow organic plants pest-free and quickly with light 24-7-365 days a year, resulting in Sonoma County quality with downtown convenience, liberating vast rural areas from eco-desctruction. Domes are even more ambitious - SK is building an EcoDome Environmental Center that’ll cover 33,000 square meters. Imagine domed villages at 70 degrees with 15 hours of daylight popping up in previously undesirable real estate, frozen wastelands, scorching deserts, wherever there’s a natural resource that can be harvested.
The Netherlands. The Dutch are leaders in developing InVitro Meat (along with New Harvest in Baltimore), In Vitro Meat will allow a city to generate its own protein instead of ravaging forests for livestock ranches. I’d like to remove the 1.5 billion farting defecating burping cattle from the 30% of the land surface of the planet that they currently pollute. Let’s replace them with tasty invitro meat, that Dutch labs at Eindhoven University are working on. The Netherlands is also spending $1 billion to improve their dike system, upping the walls by 3 feet. If global warming tries to swamp our coastlines, Dutch engineers will help us repel the ocean.
Moving into FRANCE we find the world’s largest, most successful nuclear energy program, 59 power plants providing almost 80% of the nation’s needs. Is France’s nuclear program a role model for the rest of the world?. The USA hasn’t built any new nuclear plants for decades, nuclear energy is banned in Austria, Denmark, and Ireland, Belgium is phasing out, Germany has halted. But China is building 30 new plants, Russia is building 26. Asia is very interested in nuclear energy, I assumed that France would prosper with nuclear commissions, but a recent $40 billion contract to build and operate 4 nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates, was not awarded to France, nor to the USA — the winner was… South Korea.
I can’t leave France without praising the poster girl of longevity - Jeanne Calment, 122 years 164 days and she did it in a very French way - No Caloric Restriction No supplement ingestion. Madame Jeanne ate 2 pounds of chocolate a week she smoked two cigaretes daily until she was 117, and she never worked a day in her life — we hear that people should not retire, because they’ll get bored and die, but Jeanne had a life of leisure day after day after day after day after day.
Israel. Yes, it leads the world in start-ups per capita, it’ll be the first nation to set up a national electric car system, it’s a leader in solar energy, it’s preparing to build farmscrapers, and its a leader in desalination - a potentially lucrative skill. Israel is also world leader in stem cell research, along with the United Kingdom. The USA is way behind in stem cell research due to Christian political interference, this has maimed the USA in biotech, a “brain drain” of 70 American bioscientists has emigrated to the UK.
Germany. “Perry Rhodon” - a German publication - is the best-selling science fiction in the world with 2,500 pulp novellas since 1961. Germany is a leader in pharmaceuticals, biotech, and robotics - they’ve got Europe’s only Sexbot, called “First Android” - Germany is a leader in green energy, it’s fourth in nanotechnology, and its the world leader in recycling solid waste.
Iran is having a Nanotech Festival in October, and last February Iran’s spacecraft, the Explorer 3, took 1 rat, 2 turtles and several worms into space and returned them to earth, alive.
India is planning a nanotechnology center in the Punjab, India is a leader in software innovation, but two weeks ago, after Britney Spears supposedly announced that she wanted Alcor to freeze her, after that I read the comments on Indian chat sites and I discovered that many India were puzzled and incredulous regarding Britney and Alcor because they still believe in reincarnation.
Japan is the world leader in robotics, also automotive engineering, electronics, railroads, and renewable energy. Japan’s expertise in factory robots and elder care robots are a very bright spot in its financial future, with the USA seeking to be a strong competitor.
A nation that is economically healthy can invest more in technological progress. China’s economy exceeds 10% annually, Japan is a sturdy 4.9%, the USA is 3.0-3.5%, the EU is an anemic 1.0 - 1.75% and Brazil and India have strong 6-9% annual growth. China’s economy allows it to invest in Greece, regarded as a basket case by the rest of the world. China is investing in Greek shipbuilding - and transportation infrastructure in Africa and Latin America, to guarantee shipment of raw materials to its factories, China’s long term intention though is to transform itself into an innovation economy in the next decade.
What’s more important than economics? Maybe education. Here’s where the USA really needs a kick in the butt. Although the USA has the best universities, 60% of our Engineering PhDs are given to foreign students, and 30% of our science degrees. Only 6% of American undergrads study engineering, that figure doubles to 12% in Europe, and in China, 40% of undergrads are in Engineering. A Purdue University study says 90% of all scientists and engineers in the world live in Asia.
Let’s return to the “Brain Drain” topic now — here’s three examples
In the 1970’s a Russian Jew in Moscow wanted to study astronomy and physics in graduate school but his ambitions were stymied by anti-Semitism in the Communist Part. Frustrated, he left Russia with his wife and six-year old son, named Sergei. Sergei was educated at the University of Maryland and Stanford, he studied whatever he wanted. Sergei Brin is now co-founder of Google. Russian’s loss, America’s gain. Many highly-educated Jews left Russia for Israel, the USA, and Germany — over 1 million went to Israel — an explosive brain drain for Russia. A recent survey asked scientists what nation out of 35 choices they’d like to emigrate to. The USA was #1, Canada #2, the United Kingdom was #3, and Russia was #32.
Second example, WOMEN. The nation with the highest percentage of women scientists is Serbia, 45%. That should be close to the norm, but its not, women are only 10-20% of the scientists in many nations of the world. Is prejudice in those societies wasting the brains of women and delaying human progress?
Third example. Gays and Lesbians. Leonardi da Vinci and Margaret Mead had complete lives, but what about Alan Turing? The English computer scientist was arrested for his homosexuality when he was 40 years old, to escape imprisonment he had himself chemically castrated, two years later he committed suicide with cyanide. Prejudice once again - a waste of human potential.
China is abysmal in human rights - it ignores freedom of religion by persecuting Tibetans, the Falun Gong, Christians, and Moslem minorities. China also suppresses freedom of speech, freedom of political expression, and labor organizing — this last category is critical -.we’ve read about the recent factory suicides, 13 workers leaping off buildings at Foxconn. protesting the harsh discipline, 10 hour workdays, low wages and stress. Chinese workers are now going on strike and literally killing themselves. China’s economy is boosted by low-cost exports, but these prices will rise, as labor demands a wage increase.
I need to conclude now, and I want to end with a bow of gratitude to the United Kingdom again, to the SENS institute, where Aubrey de Grey is striving to make sure that we can all sit here at these wonderfully interesting summits for an absolute eternity.