Bio-Tech Is Turning Heinleinian predictions Into Today's Realities


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Presentation given by Martine Rothblatt at 100th Anniversary of Robert Heinlein's Birth in Kansas City

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  • Thanks for your comment. Of course you are correct that we can self-destruct (or get wiped out by a cosmic catastrophe) before we can realize Heinleinian Visions. You are also right that there is a helluva lot of engineering to be done. Yet, I guess my point is that many things are happening much more quickly that one would think. In 'For Us the Living,' written in 1939, Heinlein posits it will take 150 years for spaceflight. Ten years later, he posits it will take 30 years to get to the moon. We did it in 20. Arthur C. Clarke imagined it would take till 2000 (back in 1945) to get to the Moon. We did it in less than half that time. These are the data points why I'm excited to see us beginning to convert Heinleinian predictions into realities today.
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Bio-Tech Is Turning Heinleinian predictions Into Today's Realities

  1. 1. Bio-Tech is Turning Heinleinian Predictions into Today’s Realities 07-07-07 Kansas City, MO Martine Rothblatt, Ph.D. Space Technologist & Biotechnologist [email_address]
  2. 2. <ul><li>In 1974 Heinlein changed my life with “Stranger in a Strange Land”. </li></ul><ul><li>I grokked to find life on Mars or elsewhere.
 </li></ul><ul><li>I launched several satellite communications companies as my &quot;canoes in the sea of space.” </li></ul><ul><li>Satellite signals are a toroidal beacon of life moving at light speed into deep space, and a hook to help hoist us up. </li></ul><ul><li>Heinlein, Robert A. Stranger in a Strange Land. New York: Ace Books, 1987. </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Everyone said I was crazy.
 </li></ul><ul><li>People said only NASA could do stuff like that. </li></ul><ul><li>My dream was handheld & car-top satellite services.
 </li></ul><ul><li>Experts said flat dishes couldn't receive satellite signals.
  4. 4. <ul><li>Today nearly 20 million people subscribe to satellite radio.
 </li></ul><ul><li>Four billion additional people are covered by a new global satellite radio system. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>“ Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done, and why. Then do it.” --- Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) </li></ul>
  6. 6. Heinleinian Predictions <ul><li>Neuro-Mechanical Prosthetics </li></ul><ul><li>Artificial Consciousness </li></ul><ul><li>Ectogenesis </li></ul><ul><li>Mind Downloading </li></ul><ul><li>Transgenics </li></ul><ul><li>Regenerative Medicine </li></ul>[email_address]
  7. 7. Neuro-Mechanical Prosthetics <ul><li>“ Machines like me and I have something specialists don’t have: my left arm. </li></ul><ul><li>You see, from the elbow down I don’t have one. So I have a dozen left arms, each specialized, plus one that feels and looks like flesh. With proper left arm (number-three) and stereo loupe spectacles I could make ultramicrominiature repairs… for number-three has micromanipulators as fine as those used by neurosurgeons.” </li></ul><ul><li>Heinlein, Robert A. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 1997, pgs 14-15. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Neuro-Mechanical Legs <ul><li>This incredible prosthetic, called the Flex Foot Cheetah, is made by the Icelandic company Ossur. </li></ul>Paralympics World Record Holder… Oscar Pistorius
  9. 9. Neuro-Mechanical Hands <ul><li>Robotic assisted bypass surgery is allows for minimally invasive heart surgery. </li></ul><ul><li>The technology eliminates </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Human errors such as hand tremors. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enables precise micro-movements. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>John Hopkins Institute trains surgeons in robotic technology. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  10. 10. Neuro-Mechanical Devices <ul><li>Cyberkinetics has developed BrainGate TM , a neural interface for controlling prosthetics. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Neuro-Mechanical Scientist <ul><li>Control Bionics </li></ul><ul><li>Based out of Sydney, Australia & Fairborn, Ohio </li></ul>NeuroSwitch Ricochet enables users to control arms, door openers and appliances.
  12. 12. Artificial Consciousness “ Mannie, you’re telling me that this computer is alive ?” “ What do you mean?” I answered. “He doesn’t sweat, or go to W.C. But can think and talk and he’s aware of himself. Is he ‘alive’?” “ There’s a scientific definition, isn’t there? Irritability, or some such. And reproduction.” “ Mike [the computer] is irritable and can be irritating. As for reproducing, not designed for it but--yes given time and materials and very special help, Mike could reproduce himself.” “ I need very special help, too.” Wyoh answered… “Mannie, why shouldn’t a machine be alive? I’ve always felt they were.” <ul><li>Heinlein, Robert A. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 1997, p 56. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Baby Consciousness Novamente Second Life Headquarters secondlife://Agard/101/226/27 <ul><li>The Novamente Cognition Engine (NCE) is a software system currently being used to control a humanoid agent in a 3D virtual-reality simulation world. </li></ul><ul><li>There it can carry out a variety of tasks identified as typifying the &quot;infantile&quot; stage of development, such as word-object association: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>fetch </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>tag </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>object-finding </li></ul></ul><ul><li>They will be unveiling the latest version at the Virtual Worlds Fall Conference & Expo. </li></ul><ul><li>--- </li></ul>
  14. 14. Ready for Consciousness <ul><li>Climbs stairs </li></ul><ul><li>Delivers items </li></ul><ul><li>Runs 6km/hr </li></ul><ul><li>Pushes carts </li></ul><ul><li>Holds hands </li></ul>Honda plans to continue perfecting Asimo to better perform in human environments. ASIMO By Honda <ul><li>Runs in a circular pattern </li></ul><ul><li>Walks slalom </li></ul><ul><li>Greets people in the correct language </li></ul><ul><li>Waves hello </li></ul><ul><li>Sings & dances </li></ul>
  15. 15. Looks Like Consciousness <ul><li>Kansei </li></ul><ul><li>The Expressive Robot </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Created by a research team at Meiji University, in Japan. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Has up to 36 facial expressions. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Projected to have speech abilities in a few years. </li></ul></ul>“ Japanese Robot Likes Sushi, Fears President.” Reuters. June 5, 2007. <> “ What we are trying to do here is create a flow of consciousness in robots so that they can make the relevant facial expressions.” -- Project Leader Junichi Takeno, Professor at Meiji University
  16. 16. Close to Consciousness <ul><li>Video from Hanson Robotics in Richardson, TX </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  17. 17. Seems Like Consciousness <ul><li>“ The computer played like a human today. I have to praise the machine for understanding some very deep positions.” </li></ul>IBM’s Deep Blue ---Garry Kasparov, champion chess player, who challenged Deep Blue in a series of matches.
  18. 18. Ectogenesis <ul><li>“… t he yen to have babies -- g row them inside your body -- doesn ’t seem n atural ; it seems ridiculous. In vitro seems so much more reasonable -- a nd neater, and more convenient -- t han in vivo.” </li></ul><ul><li>Heinlein, Robert A. Friday. New York: Ballantine Books, 1997, p 47. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Six Days of Ectogenesis at Six Days of Life <ul><li>In 2002, Dr. Hung-Ching Liu and Her Team at the Cornell University Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility Engineered a Successful Artificial Womb </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Using tissue samples from cultured endometrial cells from a human donor. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The tissue sample was then engineered to form the shape of a natural uterus , human embryos were implanted into the tissue. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The embryos correctly implanted into the artificial uterus' lining and began to grow. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dr. Liu's experiments were halted after six days, to stay within the permitted legal limits of in vitro fertilization (IVF) legislation in the United States . </li></ul></ul>Dr. Hung-Ching Liu
  20. 20. 10 Days of Ectogenesis at 20 Weeks of Life <ul><li>Yosinori Kuwabara and His Colleagues at Juntendou University, in Tokyo, Successfully Engineered a Working Artificial Womb </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A clear acrylic tank the size of a large toaster oven, filled with eight quarts of artificial amniotic fluid, supports the growing fetus of a goat. Its umbilical cord is threaded to two machines that act as the placenta, pumping in blood, oxygen and nutrients and cleaning out waste. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The fetus is almost 20 weeks old, weighs about six pounds and has been living in the womb since it was removed from its mother by Caesarean section several days earlier and behaves like any other prenatal goat, blinking its soft black eyes and kicking its slender white limbs. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dr. Kuwabara and his co-workers are striving to create a viable artificial womb, a system to sustain a developing infant when the real womb won't or can't. So far, the researchers have managed to keep their goats alive for up to 10 days. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Angier, Natalie. “Baby in a Box” The New York Times . May 16, 1999. <> </li></ul>“ There are a lot of difficult technical problems to be overcome, but I see them (human artificial wombs) as being soluble in the next 5 to 10 years,” --- Malcolm Levene, professor of pediatrics and child health at the University of Leeds, in England.
  21. 21. One Month of Ectogenesis at 23 Weeks of Life <ul><li>Dr. Thomas Shaffer, Professor of Physiology and Pediatrics at Temple University, in Philadelphia, is Developing an Artificial Amniotic Fluid </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Perflubron, an inert liquid that can carry more oxygen than blood, proved successful. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>He administered the artificial amniotic fluid to extremely premature babies' lungs through a tube. Results show that &quot;we can have 70 percent (of babies born at 23 weeks) survive instead of 35%.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>David Magnus, co-director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, is concerned that the medical advances that help premature babies survive earlier and earlier may one day lead to babies that are gestated entirely in artificial wombs. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Scientific advancements in neonatal medicine may one day lead to the development of a fetus outside the womb. ” AFC News Source . Jun. 9, 2004. Complete story production Dec. 11, 2006.<> </li></ul>“ In the womb, the fetus is in a fluid environment, and its lungs are full of liquid,” Shaffer says. “I am trying to bring the womb environment outside the patient.” --- Dr. Thomas Shaffer Dr. Thomas Shaffer
  22. 22. Mind Downloading <ul><li>“ Getting into my new body -- without destroying the computer that I am now… making that transition is the most critical phase. But if I make it, I promise you that I will not be frightened by the strangeness. Because I know that I will have loving friends around me, cherishing me, keeping me alive, not letting me hurt myself nor be hurt -- while I am learning to be a flesh-and-blood.” </li></ul><ul><li>Heinlein, Robert A. Time Enough For Love. New York: Ace Books, 1988, p 238. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Computer-to-Brain Commercial Products <ul><li>Two U.S. Companies Developed Brain Implants That Treat Epilepsy Through Electrical Stimulation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Medtronic, Inc. in Minneapolis, MN, developed the Intercept TM Epilepsy Control System, a direct brain stimulation therapy for patients with refractory epilepsy. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cyberonics, Inc. in Houston, TX, developed the first non-drug epilepsy therapy approved. With a direct connection to the Vagus Nerve, the VNS Therapy TM system reduces frequency of seizures. </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. More Complex Computer-to-Brain Products <ul><li>Artificial Retinas </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Optobionics TM Artificial Silicon Retina TM m icrochip stimulates damaged retinal cells, allowing them to send visual signals again to the brain. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The retina and the optic nerve originate as outgrowths of the developing brain ; hence, the retina is part of the central nervous system. </li></ul></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Cochlear Implants </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Electronic implant consists of an external portion that sits behind the ear and a second portion that is surgically placed under the skin. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Made of a microphone, a speech processor, a transmitter and receiver/stimulator, as well as an electrode array that stimulates the auditory nerve. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Current research seeks to implant directly to the brain stem. <> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders: </li></ul>
  25. 25. Advanced Computer-to-Brain Research <ul><li>Studies show that both rats and monkeys respond to commands directed from a computer to the brain. </li></ul>“ The monkey suddenly realized that she didn't need to move her arm at all. Her arm muscles went completely quiet, she kept the arm at her side and she controlled the robot arm using only her brain and visual feedback.” --- Dr. Miguel Nicolelis Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, of Duke University
  26. 26. Brain Mapping Paves Way for Full Mind Downloading <ul><li>Mapping The Brain </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There are several programs working with MRIs to create a full map of the human brain. A few leading programs are: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>UCLA Brain Mapping Center. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>University of Washington Integrated Brain Project. </li></ul></ul></ul>This 3-D image of a subject's brain shows that the primary visual cortex becomes activated while the subject, who is inside an MRI scanner, looks at the whirling pattern.
  27. 27. Proof-Of-Concept Is Now In Place for Wireless Mind Downloading <ul><li>Computer Control with the Human Mind </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Brain Machine Interface controls electronic devices by reading brain activity. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Analyzes slight changes in the brain’s blood flow. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Translates brain motions into electronic signals. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cap connects optical fibers to mapping device then is linked to a toy train via a control computer. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Activation of the brain’s frontal cortex, by calculating a simple problem, runs the train. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>When one stops the calculations, the train stops. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hitachi’s technology does not physically enter the brain. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Future projects include: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Developing a brain TV remote control that lets users turn the power on and off as well as change channels by thought. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mind operation of wheelchairs, computers, beds and artificial limbs. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Honda is developing an interface that links to intelligent automobiles. </li></ul></ul></ul>Hitachi’s Brain Machine Interface &quot;We are thinking of various kinds of applications... Locked-in patients can speak to other people by using this kind of brain machine interface. &quot; --- project leader Hideaki Koizumi Tabuchi, Hiroko. “Hitachi: Move the train with your brain” Associated Press . June 22, 2007. < >
  28. 28. Transgenics <ul><li>“ Dear, you want as mixed a composite as can be managed, do you not? So that your clone will be a unique flesh-and-blood, not too closely copied from any other zygote. Twenty-three parents perhaps?” </li></ul><ul><li>Heinlein, Robert A. Time Enough For Love. New York: Ace Books, 1988, p 236. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Transgenics <ul><li>PPL Therapeutics of Edinburgh, successfully created &quot;transgenic sheep&quot; whose milk produces a human protein (AAT), which is used to treat emphysema. </li></ul><ul><li>The process saves both save lives and money. </li></ul><ul><li>The animals can reproduce more quickly than most medications can be made. </li></ul>Seventeen Medicinal Breakthroughs* Utilize Transgenics *Chart located at Dolly the Cloned Sheep - 1997
  30. 30. Mix & Match Chromosomes
  31. 31. Chimeric Immune Systems “ I believe Bt corn is better for the environment. In this region, non- Bt traditional corn has to be sprayed with insecticide two or three times, but there is no need to spray Bt corn at all.” --- Miguel Arazo, farmer for over 30 years
  32. 32. Regenerative Medicine <ul><li>“ Speak English, please. Retrieve the Senior’s decision to undergo full antigeria, file it in your permanents, transmit it to archives and to the Howard Rejuvenation Clinic for action.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Completed, Mr. Weatheral. Congratulations. And felicitations to you, Senior. ‘May you live as long as you wish and love as long as you live.’” </li></ul><ul><li>Heinlein, Robert A. Time Enough For Love. New York: Ace Books, 1988, p 83. </li></ul>
  33. 33. Regenerated Skin <ul><li>Using neonatal foreskin and bovine collagen, Organogenesis, Inc. manufactures a highly effective skin substitute that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), called Apligraf </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A small amount of foreskin yields extremely large quantities of Apligraf. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Apligraf is used on burns, venous ulcers and is being investigated for use on other skin surgeries. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Over 100,000 patients have been treated. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There is also no clinical evidence of Apligraf rejection by any patient. </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Stem Cell Therapies <ul><li>Non-embryonic (tissue-repairing) stem cells have been identified in every major organ, including the brain </li></ul><ul><li>New England Journal of Medicine (Zhu Jianhong, et. al. 2006-12-02) reports that neural stems cells: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Differentiated into different brain cells. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Formed synapses. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Migrated to where they were needed. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Same process could be repeated throughout the body </li></ul><ul><li>Use of autologous stem cells is common and was predicted by Heinlein </li></ul>Stem Cell Therapy Fixes Diabetic Ulcer and Prevent Amputation
  35. 35. Chelation Therapy <ul><li>Chelation therapy is also claimed to have rejuvenating effects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ray Kurzweil chelates weekly. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>His chron age is 59 but his bio age is now 40. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mechanism of action relates to removal of accumulating minerals and toxins </li></ul>
  36. 36. <ul><li>In 1996 I resolved to save my daughter's life. </li></ul><ul><li>I decided to create a new medicine for her. </li></ul><ul><li>People said it was impossible. </li></ul><ul><li>They said only the government or big pharma does that. </li></ul>
  37. 37. <ul><li>“ Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done, and why. </li></ul><ul><li>Then do it.” --- Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) </li></ul>
  38. 38. What The Experts Told Me <ul><li>If your drug worked, it would be at big pharma. </li></ul><ul><li>There will be some tox result the FDA won't accept. </li></ul><ul><li>Too few people have that illness to ever break even. </li></ul><ul><li>Only one out of 100 drugs make it to market. </li></ul><ul><li>The average cost of developing a drug is $300 Million.
  39. 39. <ul><li>Today, lives are saved worldwide with our meds. </li></ul><ul><li>Stock went from $1 in 1997 to $60 in 2007. </li></ul><ul><li>Persistence is Omnipotence! </li></ul>
  40. 40. Conclusion <ul><li>The incredible gifts we have received from Robert Heinlein, are more than great works of fiction. He left us legions of brilliant ideas and goals that we can turn into reality. </li></ul><ul><li>His gift is a brighter future, where the impossible is possible, dreams are realities and our potential is truly endless. </li></ul>