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Category Archives: Transhumanist
Posted: November 10, 2020 at 1:43 am
Belize City, Nov. 2, 2020 Most people in Belize are either taken up these days with finding a job/income, with fears of COVID-19, or with anticipation of the General Elections of Nov. 11, 2020. But lurking in the shadows is a much more dangerous foe.
In the past it was called The New World Order, but that has been so discredited, that the wizard behind the curtain had to change the name to The Great Reset. What is this Great Reset?
The Great Reset is a new social contract that ties you to it through an electronic ID linked to your bank account and health records, and a social credit ID that will dictate every facet of your life. While the COVID-19 pandemic is being used as a justification for the Great Reset movement, the agenda has nothing to do with health and everything to do with a long-term plan to monitor and control the world through digital surveillance and artificial intelligence.
The Great Reset and the Fourth Industrial Revolution are rebranded terms for the old New World Order, melded with the trans-humanist movement. Technocracy (which is the new name for Fascism) is an economic system of resource allocation that revolves around computer technology in particular artificial intelligence, digital surveillance, and Big Data (5G) collection and the digitization of industry and government, which in turn allows for the automation of social engineering and social rule, thereby doing away with the need for democratically elected leadership.
While the real plan is to usher in a tech-driven dystopia free of democratic controls, the elites speak of this plan as a way to bring us back into harmony with nature the Green New Deal. Importantly, the pandemic is being used to destroy local economies around the world, which will then allow the World Economic Forum to come in through the IMF and rescue debt-ridden countries through facilitated financial bailouts.
However, the price for this salvation is your personal freedom and liberty. And, again, one of the aspects of the Fascist plan is to eliminate national borders and nationalism in general.
Who are the main actors behind the Great Reset?
Bill Gates and the World Economic Forum, along with the United Nations (which keeps a relatively low profile), appear to be at the heart of the big boys agenda. Gates is also the largest money-bag for the World Health Organization the medical branch of the U.N. Other key partners that play important roles in the implementation of the elites/globalists agenda include foundations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Ford Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the UN Foundation, and George Soros Open Society Foundation; companies such as: Avanti Communications, a British provider of satellite technology with global connectivity, and 2030 Vision, a partnership of technology giants that is aimed at providing the infrastructure and technology solutions needed to realize the U.N.s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. 2030 Vision is also partnered with Frontier 2030, which is a partnership of organizations under the helm of the World Economic Forum.
These organizations include the major Wall Street bankers/financiers; Google, the No. 1 Big Data collector in the world and a leader in AI services; MasterCard, which is leading the globalist charge to develop digital IDs and banking services, and Salesforce, a global leader in cloud computing, the internet of things and artificial intelligence.
Incidentally, Salesforce is led by Marc Benioff, who is also on the World Economic Forums board of directors, and Professor Klaus Schwab, chairman of the World Economic Forum.
Most Belizeans know little or nothing about the trans-humanist movement, or Human 2.0, which is geared at transcending biology through computer technology. Or, as Dr. Carrie Madej of USA explains in a blog, their goal is to meld human biology with computer technology and artificial intelligence. Two visible proponents of trans-humanism are Ray Kurzweil (director of engineering at Google since 2012) and Elon Musk (founder of SpaceX, Tesla and Neuralink). According to Dr. Madej, today we may be standing at the literal crossroads of trans-humanism, thanks to the fast approaching release of one or more mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
Many of the COVID 19 vaccines https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2020/05/22/coronavirus-vaccine-timetable.aspx are not conventional vaccines. Their design is aimed at manipulating your very biology, and therefore have the potential to alter the biology of the entire human race. Conventional vaccines train your body to recognize and respond to the proteins of a particular virus by injecting a small amount of the actual viral protein into your body, thereby triggering an immune response from your body and the development of antibodies.This is not what happens with an mRNA vaccine. The theory behind these vaccines is that when you inject the mRNA into your cells, it will stimulate your cells to manufacture their own viral protein. The mRNA COVID-19 vaccine will be the first of its kind. No mRNA vaccine has ever been licensed before. And, to add insult to injury, theyre forgoing all animal safety testing.
Madej has reviewed the background of certain individuals participating in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine, which include Moderna co-founder Derrick Rossi, a Harvard researcher who successfully reprogrammed stem cells using modified RNA, thus changing the function of the stem cells. Moderna was founded on this concept of being able to modify human biological function through genetic engineering.
The mRNA vaccines are designed to instruct your cells to make the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, the glycoprotein that attaches to the ACE2 receptor of the cell. The idea is that by creating the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, your immune system will mount a response to it and begin producing antibodies to the virus.
However, as we now know, Moderna is having problems, because both the CEO and CFO have, according to the Wall Street Journal, dumped their shares and sold everything, making some $350 million + dollars.
But the biggest insult by the globalists to our intelligence is the censorship of the news about the research done by genetic analysis using the Oak Ridge National Lab supercomputer called the Summit which has revealed an interesting new hypothesis that helps explain the disease progression of COVID-19. A September 1, 2020 Medium article1 by Thomas Smith reviewed the findings of what is now referred to as the Bradykinin hypothesis.
As reported by Smith, the computer crunched data on more than 40,000 genes obtained from 17,000 genetic samples.
Summit is the second-fastest computer in the world, but the process which involved analysing 2.5 billion genetic combinations still took more than a week. When Summit was done, researchers analysed the results. It was, in the words of Dr. Daniel Jacobson, lead researcher and chief scientist for computational systems biology at Oak Ridge, a eureka moment.
Bradykinin is a chemical that helps regulate your blood pressure and is controlled by your renin-angiotensin system (RAS). As explained in the Academic Press book on vitamin D (which has a significant impact on the RAS):
The renin-angiotensin system (RAS) is a central regulator of renal and cardiovascular functions. Over-activation of the RAS leads to renal and cardiovascular disorders, such as hypertension and chronic kidney disease, the major risk factors for stroke, myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, progressive atherosclerosis, and renal failure.
The Bradykinin hypothesis provides a model that helps explain some of the more unusual symptoms of COVID-19, including its bizarre effects on the cardiovascular system. It also strengthens the hypothesis that vitamin D plays a really important role in the disease.
Your ACE2 receptors are the primary gateways of the virus, as the virus spike protein binds to the ACE2 receptor. As explained2 by Smith:
COVID-19 infection generally begins when the virus enters the body through ACE2 receptors in the nose The virus then proceeds through the body, entering cells in other places where ACE2 is also present But once Covid-19 has established itself in the body, things start to get really interesting The data Summit analysed shows that COVID-19 isnt content to simply infect cells that already express lots of ACE2 receptors. Instead, it actively hijacks the bodys own systems, tricking it into up-regulating ACE2 receptors in places where theyre usually expressed at low or medium levels, including the lungs.
In this sense, COVID-19 is like a burglar who slips in your unlocked second-floor window and starts to ransack your house. Once inside, though, they dont just take your stuff they also throw open all your doors and windows so their accomplices can rush in and help pillage more efficiently.
The end result is a Bradykinin storm, and according to the researchers, this appears to be an important factor in many of COVID-19s lethal effects, even more so than the Cytokine storms associated with the disease. As Bradykinin accumulates, the more serious COVID-19 symptoms appear. Mounting clinical data suggest COVID-19 is actually primarily a vascular disease rather than a respiratory one, and runaway Bradykinin build-up help explain this.
The good news is that since Bradykinin storms are to blame, there are a number of already existing drugs (Icatibant, Danazol, Stanozolol) that can help prevent Bradykinin storms, and there are many other safe, inexpensive strategies like nebulized peroxide, ozone, molecular hydrogen, steroids, exogenous ketones, and Quercetin with zinc, vitamin D, and high-dose vitamin C.
And there are two reports by the American CDC. One says that 70.6% of COVID-19 patients always wore a mask3. The other says only 6% of all COVID-19 deaths were due ONLY to coronavirus4. And yet another said that the common seasonal flu caused more deaths than COVID-19.
So, if COVID-19 deaths are not what is being reported by the mass media, if the SAR CoV-2 virus is not as deadly to humans, then why the lockdowns, the face masks, the social distancing, the destruction of the way we live, of our economies? Why? Why?
But not all men are blind. On Oct 25, 2020, the Archbishop of Ulpiana, former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America, Carlo Maria Vigano, wrote an open letter (which over 100 million Americans have read) to President Donald Trump. The letter is long and is all over the internet. This is some of it:
at this hour in which the fate of the whole world is being threatened by a global conspiracy against God and humanityin the midst of the silence of both civil and religious authoritiesthis historical moment sees the forces of Evil aligned in a battle against the children of Lightwe see heads of nations and religious leaders pandering to this suicide of Western culture and its Christian soul, while the fundamental rights of citizens and believers are denied in the name of a health emergency that is revealing itself more and more fully as instrumental to the establishment of an inhuman faceless tyranny.
A global plan called the Great Reset is underway. Its architect is a global lite that wants to subdue all of humanity, imposing coercive measures with which to drastically limit individual freedoms and those of entire populations Behind the world leaders who are the accomplices and executors of this infernal project, there are unscrupulous characters who finance the World Economic Forum and Event 201, promoting their agenda.
The purpose of the Great Reset is the imposition of a health dictatorship aiming at the imposition of liberticidal measures, hidden behind tempting promises of ensuring a universal income and cancelling individual debt. The price of these concessions from the International Monetary Fund will be the renunciation of private property and adherence to a program of vaccination against Covid-19 and Covid-21 promoted by Bill Gates with the collaboration of the main pharmaceutical groups. Beyond the enormous economic interests that motivate the promoters of the Great Reset, the imposition of the vaccination will be accompanied by the requirement of a health passport and a digital ID, with the consequent contact tracing of the population of the entire world. Those who do not accept these measures will be confined in detention camps or placed under house arrest, and all their assets will be confiscated.
Mr President, I imagine that you are already aware that in some countries the Great Reset will be activated between the end of this year and the first trimester of 2021. For this purpose, further lockdowns are planned, which will be officially justified by a supposed second and third wave of the pandemic. But this world, Mr. President, includes people, affections, institutions, faith, culture, traditions, and ideals: people and values that do not act like automatons, who do not obey like machines, because they are endowed with a soul and a heart, because they are tied together by a spiritual bond that draws its strength from above, from that God that our adversaries want to challenge, just as Lucifer did at the beginning of time with his non serviam.
Until a few months ago, it was easy to smear as conspiracy theorists those who denounced these terrible plans, which we now see being carried out down to the smallest detail. No one, up until last February, would ever have thought that, in all of our cities, citizens would be arrested simply for wanting to walk down the street, to breathe, to want to keep their business open, to want to go to church on Sunday. Yet, now it is happening all over the world.
Mr. President, you have clearly stated that you want to defend the nation One Nation under God, fundamental liberties, and non-negotiable values that are denied and fought against today. It is you, dear President, who are the one who opposes the deep state, the final assault of the children of darkness.
For this reason, it is necessary that all people of goodwill be persuaded of the epochal importance of the imminent election Your adversary is also our adversary: it is the Enemy of the human race, He who is a murderer from the beginning (Jn 8:44).
And yet, in the midst of this bleak picture, this apparently unstoppable advance of the Invisible Enemy, an element of hope emerges. The adversary does not know how to love, and it does not understand that it is not enough to assure a universal income or to cancel mortgages in order to subjugate the masses and convince them to be branded like cattle. This people, which for too long has endured the abuses of a hateful and tyrannical power, is rediscovering that it has a soul; it is understanding that it is not willing to exchange its freedom for the homogenization and cancellation of its identity; it is beginning to understand the value of familial and social ties, of the bonds of faith and culture that unite honest people.
This Great Reset is destined to fail because those who planned it do not understand that there are still people ready to take to the streets to defend their rights, to protect their loved ones, to give a future to their children and grandchildren. The levelling inhumanity of the globalist project will shatter miserably in the face of the firm and courageous. To be an instrument of Divine Providence is a great responsibility, for which you will certainly receive all the graces of state that you need, since they are being fervently implored for you by the many people who support you with their prayers.
Meanwhile, here in Belize, we kill our so-called COVID-19 patients. Ventilators will kill you. Doctors of Belize, read the report of the US Oak Ridge National Lab on COVID-19. NO one needs to die anymore from COVID-19. US President Trump, who is 74 years old, was cured after 3 days of COVID-19.
And by the time you read this article, the world will know who won the elections in the United States.
Curfew on Nov. 11, election night in Belize, is part of the Globalist agenda. Let the people celebrate their victory. Open the churches, the schools, the bars; open the society. Send the globalist/elites back to Hell with Lucifer.
2ibid3https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6936a5.htmRead the table at the end.4https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid_weekly/index.html
Go here to read the rest:
The great reset: new danger on the horizon - Amandala
Posted: at 1:43 am
COVID-19 cases reported do not reveal the true story. Most of these people have the common cold with symptoms of COVID-19.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause illness, such as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a leading cause of death, Middle East syndrome (MERS), also the common cold.
The new virus, which originated in China, is being called SARS-CoV-2.
These numbers are being used by hospitals, Big Pharma, corporations, doctors and greedy politicians with big pockets for money that will come from the taxpayers of America.
When it comes to doctors, it depends on which doctor you talk to.
I just went to my heart doctor. He told me all they do to is ask the COVID questions for the hospital to get paid.
He also told me all disease centers are lying about numbers. Bigger numbers mean bigger pay.
So I guess it depends on which mathematician or doctor you want to believe. You get different numbers from all of them.
Amazingly, social media reports show influenza numbers are down 93 percent this year.
Its time for term limits to keep Congress honest.
I truly thought my subscription would end this month but you have continued to send them to me.
It is my sister who reads your paper in Prosser, Wash.
We confer daily on subjects in your paper. You cover the Pacific Northwest like no other. My own paper does local news very poorly, considering we are the state capital. The national news comes from USA Today, which is so slanted and incomplete.
All the fuss over Mike Luckovichs cartoon both my sister and I were digging around in our recycling garbage barrels to recover that cartoon to try and figure out what all the trouble it caused in peoples minds (some peoples.) Good grief.
We both cut out cartoons and articles from your paper and our own. This particular cartoon wasnt significant to us (Were both Democrats). We didnt save it. And we couldnt find it.
Mine has been carried away by the D and O Garbage Service. Oh well.
I hope our present storms end with a rainbow. This election will determine a lot. ...
Save America, stop socialism sounds great when you equate socialism with a nihilist totalitarianism that will disarm you and leave you defenseless, while your children are forcibly indoctrinated by pre-sexualizing trans-humanist advocates, while the nuclear family is dismantled, and thy religion becometh outlawed.
Very, but say socialism is defeated, Social Security is privatized and the stock market inevitably crashes. The entire working population is left in the lurch by international thieves and their congressional hench-persons, while glyphosate continues to cover our food. Tap water becomes undrinkable across the country, causing drinking water to become a precious commodity. And that gets bottled in petrochemical plastic, which disrupts the endocrine system. Friends and family lose their homes because they cant pay medical bills. And homeless armies roam the streets with chemically induced super powers.
Capitalism versus socialism? Why not both?
Then when I am protesting the last tree falling, I can get jailed for using the wrong gender pronoun.
As conceptual models, both isms have their value, obviously, but within a larger, richer narrative in which they are contextually applicable, not subtext for inhumane leverage nor pretext for the justification of that leverage.
Posted: October 20, 2020 at 6:17 pm
Now's the time to live forever. Futurologists and transhumanists are poking themselves with what molecules they can, seeing what there is that might extend their lives or preserve their brains. One of the most intriguing molecules out there is called Klotho. Identified in 1997, it's named for the Fate of ancient Greek mythology who spun the thread the life. Mice that have a severely limited amount of Klotho in their body age rapidly and die prematurely. On the other hand, mice that carry more Klotho than normal live longer lives and appear to be resistant in some ways to aging.
Last April, an article appeared in the New York Times, titled "One Day There May Be a Drug to Turbocharge the Brain. Who Should Get it?" Massive contributor and neuroscientist Yewande Pearse and editor Dan Samorodnitsky sat down (in front of their computers) to talk about Klotho what it is, what it does, and whether prescribing a drug to supercharge the brain is a good idea.
Dan Samorodnitsky: Would it have to be prescribed by a doctor? Bought over the counter? Available at *chuckles to self* "Klotho shops"?
Yewande Pearse: This is a really interesting question because unlike a lot of other drugs, Klotho is a) a naturally occurring protein and b) has the potential to protect, treat and enhance the brain, therefore, the answer depends on the circumstances.
Mouse studies have revealed that Klotho plays an important role in the aging process. Mice with mutations in the Klotho gene have phenotypes which resemble different aspects of human aging, such as slowed growth, calcifying blood vessels, osteoporosis, and premature death. With respect to brain function, when mice with symptoms of age-related Alzheimer's disease are given Klotho, they are protected from cognitive decline. However, the exact biological function of Klotho and the way in which Klotho deficiency contributes to age-related diseases is not understood in mice, let alone humans.
Klotho has also has been shown to decrease with age in human blood serum samples, which may have something to do with cognitive decline in aging. Having said that, we all age, but we don't all develop Alzheimer's disease. Interestingly, people who carry a genetic variation of the Klotho gene that causes them to produce more Klotho, seem to not only be protected from Alzheimer's disease, but also perform better on cognitive tests like the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE)than people who produce average levels of Klotho.
Therefore, this becomes a question of dosage. To answer whether Klotho would have to be prescribed, we need to figure out the dose of Klotho required to prevent, treat, and enhance, and whether there are dose dependent risks. Perhaps a good starting point would be to calculate how much extra Klotho people with that gene variant produce compared to the average person versus how much less Klotho people who develop Alzheimer's disease have compared to those who do not of the same age.
It is also important to think about the structure and expression of Klotho when answering this question. Klotho is actually a transmembrane protein which means that it sits in the cell wall. Most of Klotho exists outside of the cell, but can be chopped off and released into the blood, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid. These different forms of Klotho all have different functions. Therefore, simply taking Klotho orally, is not as simple as it sounds, as it is unlikely that it will get it into its natural place in thebody, especially if we are trying to get it to the brain where it would have to cross the blood-brain-barrier, which prevents large molecules from passing through. To properly capture the full range of Klotho functions, we may be better off thinking about targeting the gene expression of Klotho itself something that may go beyond even a doctors prescription.
Multi-color whole brain image taken by fMRI
NIH via Flickr
But are naturally occurring levels of Klotho at the evolutionarily "correct" expression level?
Klotho is considered to be an aging-suppressor gene with multiple functions that protect organs. However, this protection doesn't last forever as Klotho declines with age.
To answer this question, we need to address a different question first: How and why do we age? There is no unified theory to explain the overall transformation taking place in the body during aging, but several theories, such as random mutation of genes, accumulation of damage by free radicals and the degeneration of functions like immunity are all valid on a local level. The reduction in Klotho as we age, for example, might fall into the last category, helping to explain dementia in the aging brain.
The "why?" is about trying to understand aging in terms of its necessity for survival. That sounds like a contradiction but is important when considering whether or not we should be taking Klotho as a drug. In 1889, August Weismann proposed that aging is a natural process of wearing out. If this is the case, then it is tempting to argue that there is no evolutionarily "correct" expression level of Klotho beyond child-bearing age. Klotho protects us for long enough to pass on our genes, after which point evolution has no reason to select for prolonged lifespan. This is why we don't all carry the "extra Klotho" genetic variant. However, the fact that better health care has granted us longer life regardless means that having higher levels of Klotho to maintain cognition is certainly preferable, and we could also argue that naturally occurring levels of Klotho are inadequate and should be augmented. Does that make sense?
It does make sense. Should we be concerned about, I don't know how to put it, over-correction? It feels like a moving target to nail down a dosage of Klotho that works well with any individual's natural expression of Klotho, natural variants, mutations, the three different variants of Klotho, just the overall difficulty of nailing down medications aimed at the nervous system.
Definitely, I think that caution is certainly needed given the fact that some studies have shown that one variant is actually associated with increased dementia and schizophrenia, suggesting that positive effects of Klotho on cognition may actually be limited by time, sex, and other factors. Having said that, all drugs, many of which have saved and improved lives, face the same challenge.
I think that Klotho research should focus on preventing the development of Alzheimers in people at risk first. In other words, trying to better understand Klotho as a potential biomarker, not just a treatment. There are no human studies to show what happens when Klotho is given to those who already have dementia, so early intervention is probably key. For the rest of us, research should focus on how our natural expression level of Klotho might be impacted by diet, exercise, etc., rather than heading straight down the pharmaceutical rout. For example, studies show that exercise, carbs, activated charcoal, probiotics and even statins can all increase the production of Klotho.
Is there evidence of disease from lack of Klotho in the body (maybe similar to imbalances occurring in some mental illnesses)?
The first clues about the function of Klotho came from mouse studies in which, the Klotho gene was deliberately mutated so that they didn't produce the normal level of Klotho. These mice had shorter life-spans and interestingly, showed a rapid decline in cognitive function, but only after a certain age. With mouse studies continuing to support the idea that Klotho expression levels correlate with both body (Klotho is made in the kidney too!) and brain function, there is now a lot of interest in Klotho as an indicator of health and disease.
A lack of Klotho in the body has been shown to correlate with a number of psychological conditions from chronic stress, which can lead to other psychiatric illnesses, and bipolar disorder. Lower levels of Klotho have also been associated with disease severity in multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Generally, Klotho levels are lower in older people, but in Alzheimer's disease, patients, especially female patients, have even less Klotho.
A cross-section of a mouse cerebellum
NIH via Flickr
Also, and I'm sorry to keep harping on this, there's this quote from the original New York Times article that started this conversation:
"Some people carry a genetic variation that causes them to produce higher levels of Klotho than average in their bodies. Dr. Dubal and her colleagues identified a group of healthy old people with the variant and tested their cognition.
They scored better than people who make an average level of Klotho. Its not like they didnt undergo cognitive decline, said Dr. Dubal. Its just that they started off higher.
Maybe I'm just confused about the difference between Klotho making people "smarter" and people having "higher cognition" or something?
This is the part of the article that really jumped out at me. This is an important distinction. In this study, they found that differences in cognition as measured by IQ scores were only apparent after the age of 60. This means that these individuals experienced a delay in cognitive decline compared to people of the same age with the normal level of Klotho. Before 60, IQ scores were comparable but then after 60, people with lower levels of Klotho experienced a drop in IQ. Klotho is all about anti-aging, so we need to thinking about cognitive decline as a feature of aging and Klotho as an anti-aging protein. Assuming that we have the same IQ and we don't have the Klotho variant, if you were to start taking Klotho now (pretend they've cracked the issues above) and I didn't, I don't think you'd suddenly get smarter, I just think that when we got older, I'd start experiencing cognitive decline before you.
Do you worry about the number of apparent medical functions Klotho has ascribed to it? Increases overall brain function (but doesn't make you smarter), increases lifespan, and protects against a bunch of different, un-related diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and MS? Seems like a lot of effects for one protein.
I am fascinated by the fact that Klotho has so many effects! It's a bit of a super protein. I am not surprised though because although all these effects seem disparate, they share common pathways upon which Klotho acts. For example, Kotho has antioxidant effects that are important for multiple functions both in the brain and the kidneys.
What I am worried about though is the fact that little is actually known about the function of Klotho and how aging suppression might work. I think we should be very careful about altering something that does indeed have so many actions and effects. Once Klotho is secreted, it enters the blood stream and goes everywhere, but by taking Klotho orally, I am not sure how can we ensure Klotho is going to the right places in the right quantities in a way that is effective and safe.
Do you worry about the ethics of taking Klotho? Taking it as a replacement drug, like if someone has low Klotho, seems fine, but beyond that? Should neuroscience researchers worry about that?
Are you asking me whether I think it's unethical to want to live longer and better? I'm tempted to go off on a tangent about our human endeavor to live forever and what that is doing to the environment. But, if we are going to live longer, is it wrong to want a better quality of life as measured by staying sharper into out 70s, 80s and 90s? I don't think that desire is unethical.
However, if we are talking about the ethics of taking an enhancement drug that not everyone has access to then my answer would lean more towards no but I'd say the same about food equity and a hundred other things that influence our health and well-being. I guess that answer is more personal. As a neuroscience researcher, my priority is safety and the ethics around that. If we can ensure that taking "extra" Klotho is safe and effective then, I don't think we should be worried. I mean, I can't speak for neuroscientists everywhere, but if some of us are willing to research how zapping the brains of healthy adults to improve memory and potentially improve cognitive function, then relatively speaking, I don't think researching the additive effects of a naturally occurring protein is a concern.
Posted: September 26, 2020 at 6:59 am
Humans and robots were first introduced to each other in a theatre. Karel apeks play RUR, which premiered in Prague in 1921, contained the first use of the term robot, and featured uncannily human-looking artificial people. So Mark OConnell tells us in his 2018 Wellcome prize-winning book To Be a Machine, an exploration of transhumanism, the belief that the human race can evolve beyond its limitations through technology and even thereby escape death.
OConnells book has now been adapted by the Irish theatre company Dead Centre into a stage show, co-directed by Ben Kidd and Bush Moukarzel, exploring the relationship between man and machine that has only become more vexed in the intervening century. And there will be no humans in the stalls. Instead, audiences watch from home, but have their faces pre-recorded and broadcast into the theatre on iPad screens placed in the seats, so they can be seen by Jack Gleeson as he performs the one-man show.
I spoke to OConnell and Gleeson, mediated fittingly enough by our laptop screens, about how they arrived at this premise. Over lockdown, the team were spitballing Covid-safe ideas that would mean they could still put on a theatre production in 2020. These semi-jokingly included performing to just a single audience member, like when Wu-Tang released that album that there was only one copy of, said OConnell.
The innovative format they landed on is more than a workaround forced by circumstance, though. Not to say that it was lucky, but the coronavirus situation dovetailed really nicely with some of the concerns of the book, said OConnell.
In the book, OConnell visits people at the heart of the transhumanist movement, in cryonics facilities and Silicon Valley conferences, and even in a coffin-shaped campaign bus of a transhumanist 2016 presidential candidate. But the stage show is less an adaptation of the events of the book than its ideas, such as self-alienation, the frailty of the body, the primacy of technology in our lives and our innate fear of death concerns that have only become more topical in the pandemic era.
How does the you that is presented on a screen relate to your physical, flesh and blood form? Where does your identity truly reside? Theyre ideas that can make you feel dizzy if you let them, and feelings that many of us have experienced through being beamed into the homes of friends and colleagues through machines over the past months. Gleeson and OConnell both speak about being familiar with alienation from the self. Gleesons image is associated with a character who could not be more different than the affable person speaking to me. He is best known as the sadistic villain King Joffrey on Game of Thrones.
That feeling of not recognising yourself, as Gleeson put it, is something OConnell also felt devising the stage adaptation. I got obsessed with how much time had passed since I wrote [the book] and how I was, in a lot of ways, a different person.
The stage show will consider transhumanism seriously, just as the book did. Its not just, Wow these guys are eccentric nerds, said Gleeson. Its a bigger meditation on things that we all feel, about how crappy our bodies are, and how mortal. And, ultimately, the desire to live forever can be traced back to our basic human wiring to fear death. Transhumanism is an expression of the profound human longing to transcend the confusion and desire and impotence and sickness of the body, writes OConnell.
Is the answer to existential dread, made worse by a pandemic, to escape our bodies once and for all? OConnell feels the opposite. Ive been thinking about how effectively flattened so much of our lives are, by being online all the time. And when I think about what it might be like to be an uploaded consciousness, it just feels like a horrific version of that.
Being an uploaded audience member, however, is a choice we might have to continue to make as theatre-goers for some time. One of the main ideas in the show is that maybe you cant recreate that feeling of being humans together in a room listening to a story thats so ingrained in us as a species, said Gleeson. But in many ways, the team behind To Be a Machine (Version 1.0), as this first showing at the Dublin theatre festival is titled, feel that they have managed to produce something that is enhanced, rather than limited, by being online: a final product rather than a first version. For one thing, the show makes use of videography that would not be possible live.
I cant help but be hopeful that this show and others like it work. As long as we have been telling stories, we have been telling them about the desire to escape our human bodies, to become something other than the animals we are, writes OConnell in the book. And for the moment, being uploaded to a theatre crowd might be the best way to achieve that much-needed abstraction from ourselves as we consider the near future and our place in it.
See the article here:
Kings and machines: Game of Thrones star's daring transhuman adventure - The Guardian
Posted: at 6:59 am
There's no evidence of an afterlife. But there's also no proof that our medical death needs to be the end of our subjective experience. There's no proof that death is irreversible, or immortality impossible.
In fact, some researchers believe immortality isn't just possible, but inevitable.
Alexey Turchin, an author, life extensionist, and transhumanist researcher from Moscow, believes artificial intelligence will eventually become so powerful that humans will be able to "download" themselves or, the quantifiable information contained in their brains into computers and live forever.
It'll take a long time to develop that technology anywhere from 100 to 600 years, according to Turchin.
"The development of AI is going rather fast, but we are still far away from being able to 'download' a human into a computer," Turchin told Russia Beyond. "If we want to do it with a good probability of success, then count on [the year] 2600, to be sure."
That might be out of reach for modern humans. But downloading yourself onto a computer is just one potential route to immortality. In 2018, Turchin and Maxim Chernyakov, of the Russian Transhumanist Movement, wrote a paper outlining the main ways technology might someday make resurrection and, therefore, immortality possible.
The paper defines life as a "continued stream of subjective experiences" and death as the permanent end of that stream. Immortality, to them, is a "life stream without end," and resurrection is the "continuation of that same stream of experiences after an arbitrarily long gap."
Another key clarification is the identity problem: How would you know that a downloaded copy of yourself really was going to be you? Couldn't it just be a convincing yet incomplete and fundamentally distinct representation of your brain?
If you believe that your copy is not you, that implies you believe there's something more to your identity than the (currently) quantifiable information contained within your brain and body, according to the researchers. In other words, your "informational identity" does not constitute your true identity.
In this scenario, there must exist what the researchers call a "non-informational identity carrier" (NIIC). This could be something like a "soul." It could be "qualia," which are the unmeasurable "subjective experiences which could be unique to every person." Or maybe it doesn't exist at all.
It's no matter: The researchers say resurrection, in some form, should be possible in either scenario.
"If no 'soul' exist[s], resurrection is possible via information preservation; if soul[s] exist, resurrection is possible via returning of the "soul" into the new body. But some forms of NIIC are also very fragile and mortal, like continuity," the researchers noted.
"The problem of the nature of human identity could be solved by future superintelligent AI, but for now it cannot be definitively solved. This means that we should try to preserve as much identity as possible and not refuse any approaches to life extension and resurrection even if they contradict our intuitions about identity, as our notions of identity could change later."
Turchin and Chernyakov outline seven broad categories of potential resurrection methods, ranked from the most plausible to most speculative.
The first category includes methods practiced while the person is alive, like cryonics, plastination, and preserving brain tissue through processes like chemical fixation. The researchers noted that there have been "suggestions that the claustrum, hypothalamus, or even a single neuron is the neural correlate of consciousness," so it may be possible to preserve just that part of a person, and later implant it into another organism.
Other methods get far stranger. For example, one method includes super-intelligent AI that uses a Dyson sphere to harness the power of the sun to "power enormous calculation engines" that would "reconstruct" people who collected a sufficient amount of data on their identities.
"The main idea of a resurrection-simulation is that if one takes the DNA of a past person and subjects it to the same developmental condition, as well as correcting the development based on some known outcomes, it is possible to create a model of a past person which is very close to the original," the researchers wrote.
"DNA samples of most people who lived in past 1 to 2 centuries could be extracted via global archeology. After the moment of death, the simulated person is moved into some form of the afterlife, perhaps similar to his religious expectations, where he meets his relatives."
Delving further into sci-fi territory, another resurrection method would use time-travel technology.
"If there will at some point be technology that allows travel to the past, then our future descendants will be able to directly save people dying in the past by collecting their brains at the moment of death and replacing them with replicas," the paper states.
How? Sending tiny robots back in time.
"A nanorobot could be sent several billion years before now, where it could secretly replicate and sow nanotech within all living being[s] without affecting the course of history. At the moment of death, such nanorobots could be activated to collect data about the brain and preserve it somewhere until its future resurrection; thus, there would be no need for forward time travel."
The paper goes on to outline some more resurrection methods, including ones that involve parallel worlds, aliens, and clones, along with a good, old-fashioned possibility: God exists and one day he resurrects us.
In short, it's all extremely speculative.
But the aim of the paper was to catalogue known potential ways humans might be able to cheat death. For Turchin, that's not some far-off project: In addition to studying global risks and transhumanism, the Russian researcher heads the Immortality Roadmap, which, similar to the 2018 paper, outlines various ways in which we might someday achieve immortality.
Although it may take centuries before humans come close to "digital immortality," Turchin believes that life-extension technology could allow some modern people to survive long enough to see it happen.
Want a shot at being among them? Beyond the obvious, like staying healthy, the Immortality Roadmap suggests you start collecting extensive data on yourself: diaries, video recordings, DNA information, EEGs, complex creative objects all of which could someday be used to digitally "reconstruct" your identity.
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The Honorable Dr. Dale Layman, Founder of Robowatch, LLC, is Recognized as the 2020 Humanitarian of the Year by Top 100 Registry, Inc. – IT News…
Posted: September 4, 2020 at 3:07 pm
Joliet, IL, September 03, 2020 --(PR.com)-- The Honorable Dr. Dale Pierre Layman, A.S., B.S., M.S., Ed.S., Ph.D. #1, Ph.D. #2, Grand Ph.D. in Medicine, MOIF, FABI, DG, DDG, LPIBA, IOM, AdVMed, AGE, is the Founder and President of Robowatch, L.L.C. (www.robowatch.info.) Robowatch is an international non-profit group aiming to keep a watchful human eye on the fast-moving developments occurring in the fields of robotics, computing, and Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) industries. As the first person in his family to attend college in 1968, he earned an Associate of Science (A.S.) in Life Science from Lake Michigan College. The same year, he won a Michigan Public Junior College Transfer Scholarship to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In 1971, he received an Interdepartmental B.S. with Distinction, in Anthropology - Zoology, from the University of Michigan. From 1971 to 1972, Dr. Layman served as a Histological Technician in the Department of Neuropathology at the University of Michigan Medical School. From 1972 to 1974, he attended the U of M Medical School, Physiology department, and was a Teaching Fellow of Human Physiology. He completed his M.S. in Physiology from the University of Michigan in 1974.
From 1974 to 1975, Dr. Layman served as an Instructor in the Biology Department at Lake Superior State College. In 1975, he became a full-time, permanent Instructor in the Natural Science Department of Joliet Junior College (J.J.C.) and taught Human Anatomy, Physiology, and Medical Terminology to Nursing & Allied Health students. Appointed to the Governing Board of Text & Academic Authors, he authored several textbooks, including but not limited to the Terminology of Anatomy & Physiology and Anatomy Demystified. In 2003, Dr. Layman wrote the Foreword to the Concise Encyclopedia of Robotics, Stan Gibilisco.
As a renowned scholar and book author, Dr. Layman proposed The Faculty Ranking Initiative in the State of Illinois to increase the credibility of faculty members in the States two-year colleges, which will help with research grants or publications. In 1994, the State of Illinois accepted this proposal. J.J.C. adapted the change in 2000, and Dr. Layman taught full-time from 1975 until his retirement in 2007. He returned and taught part-time from 2008 to 2010. Dr. Layman received an Ed.S. (Educational Specialist) in Physiology and Health Science from Ball State University in 1979. Then, in 1986, Dr. Layman received his first Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, in Health and Safety Studies. In 2003, Dr. Layman received a second Ph.D. and a Grand Ph.D. in Medicine, from the Academie Europeenne D Informatisation (A.E.I.) and the World Information Distributed University (WIDU). He is the first American to receive the Grand Doctor of Philosophy in Medicine.
In 1999, Dr. Layman delivered a groundbreaking speech at the National Convention of Text and Academic Authors, Park City, Utah. Here, he first publicly explained his unique concept: Compu-Think, a contraction for computer-like modes or ways of human thinking. This reflects the dire need for humans to develop more computer-like modes or ways of Natural Human thinking. This concept has important practical applications to Human Health and Well-being. In 2000, Dr. Layman gave several major talks and received top-level awards. In May of 2000, he participated in a two-week faculty exchange program with Professor Harrie van Liebergen of the Health Care Division of Koning Willem I College, Netherlands.
In 2001, after attending an open lecture on neural implants at the University of Reading, England, Dr. Layman created Robowatch. The London Diplomatic Academy published several articles about his work, such as Robowatch (2001) and Robowatch 2002: Mankind at the Brink (2002). The article Half-human and half-computer, Andrej Kikelj (2003) discussed the far-flung implications of Dr. Laymans work. Using the base of half-human, half-computer, Dr. Layman coined the name of a new disease, Psychosomatic Technophilic, which translates as an abnormal love or attraction for technology [that replaces] the body and mind. Notably, Dr. Layman was cited several times in the article Transhumanism, (Wikipedia, 2009). Further in 2009, several debates about Transhumanism were published in Wikipedia, and they identified Dr. Layman as an anti-transhumanist who first coined the phrase, Terminator argument.
In 2018, Dr. Layman was featured in the cover of Pro-Files Magazine, 8th Edition, by Marquis Whos Who. He was the Executive Spotlight in Robotics, Computers and Artificial Intelligence, in the 2018 Edition of the Top 101 Industry Experts, by Worldwide Publishing. He also appeared on the cover of the July 2018 issue of T.I.P. (Top Industry Professionals) magazine, the International Association of Top Professionals. Dr. Layman was also the recipient of the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award (2017-2018). Ever a Lifelong Student and taking classes for the past few years at J.J.C., Dr. Layman was recently inducted (2019) to his second formal induction into the worlds largest honor society for community college students, Phi Theta Kappa.
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The promise and perils of synthetic biology take center stage in a fast-paced new Netflix series – Science Magazine
Posted: at 3:07 pm
Christian DitterNetflix6 episodes
The first season of the Netflix series Biohackers, consisting of six episodes released on the streaming platform on 20 August, tells a fictional tale centered around the sociotechnological movement known as do-it-yourself (DIY) biology, in which amateurs, professionals, anarchists, and civic-minded citizens push the boundaries of mainstream biology. The shows main characters include a wealthy biopharmaceutical executive, a group of medical students, a number of stereotypical biohackers making animals glow and plants play music, and a community of transhumanists intent on modifying their bodies for seemingly impractical endeavors.
Whereas biological experimentation was once the sole domain of trained professionals in well-stocked and well-funded institutional labs, the field has been democratized by the emergence of the open-source movement, plummeting sequencing costs, greater access to reagents and devices, the proliferation of online resources, and the emergence of tools and methodologies that enable nonexperts to genetically engineer organisms without years of professional training. [Valid concerns regarding some of the activities associated with the DIY bio community have been voiced by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (1).]
Medical student Mia Akerlund (right) meets biohackers pushing the boundaries of mainstream biology.
The show follows Mia Akerlund (played by Luna Wedler), a first-year medical student vying for a position at a prestigious biopharmaceutical firm headed by celebrated professor Tanja Lorenz (Jessica Schwarz). Akerlund and Lorenz clearly have some shared history, as well as their own secrets, although viewers are not privy to the details of either at the start of the series. For much of the first episodes, the relationship between these two enigmatic characters is revealed slowly through both flash-forwards and flashbacks. But we know that a big reveal is coming; the programs official description teases a secret so big it could change the fate of humanity.
Throughout the seasons six fast-paced episodes, the viewer is exposed to technologies and techniques that would be familiar to many professional scientists. And while the time frames of the various experiments conducted are often compressed for dramatic effect, Christian Ditterthe shows creator, writer, director, and showrunnergoes out of his way to present complex science as accurately as possible. In one montage, for example, we watch various biohackers, some with better aseptic technique than others, add reagents to microcentrifuge tubes, load polymerase chain reaction machines, and examine gels to assess whether they have accurately created a desired genomic sequence. In another scene, a student suffering from a degenerative disease seeks to develop his own cure in a secret lab, where he can work without burdensome oversight. The student injects himself with an unknown liquid, his purported cure. Here, the shows dialogue surrounding the cure and its antidote (to be administered if things go wrong) offers insight into how RNA interference therapies work.
But the show also serves as a pedagogical vehicle to raise many timely and interesting ethical, legal, and social concerns. From bioluminescent mammals to the collection of genetic material for clinical trials, the series storyline highlights how cavalierly we sometimes approach genomic data and genetic engineering. Later episodes depict even more egregious examples of biohacking, including organisms modified to transmit viruses as efficiently as possible. At one point, a character suggests that the ends of her research justify the experimental means, even when her methods demonstrate a gross disregard for test subjects who may suffer as a result.
The show also offers insight into some of the motivations that drive DIY biology efforts. For example, in one scene, a confidant of Akerlund expresses dismay that Lorenz is willing to sell a cheaply acquired drug to desperate patients for inflated prices. Such frustrations are what drive many citizens operating outside traditional institutions to develop their own pharmaceutical solutions.
It is ironic that Biohackers is set in Germany, one of the few places where genetic engineering experimentation outside of licensed facilities is illegal and can result in a fine or even imprisonment (2). Yet, given all that transpires in the show, one is left with the sense that such measures maybe justified.
References and Notes:1. Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, New directions: The ethics of synthetic biology and emerging technologies (2010).2. Sections 8 and 39 of the German Genetic Engineering Act [Gentechnikgesetz (GenTG)].
The reviewer is at Zvi Meitar Institute for Legal Implications of Emerging Technologies, Herzliya, Israel, and the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.
Carrion game/level designer Krzysztof Chomicki on managing amorphousness, gravity and screams – Game World Observer
Posted: at 3:07 pm
Carrion is a reverse horror game in which you play as an amorphous creature of unknown origins.The game received universal acclaim from players and critics for its clever power-fantasy premise, as well as satisfying traversal and combat mechanics, which allow for gameplay that can be both strategic and chaotic.
The team behind the game is Polish developer called Phobia Game Studio, whose members previously shipped 2D platformer Butcher.
We caught up withKrzysztof Chomicki, game and level designer on Carrion, to discuss what it took to create the ultimate monster simulation experience of 2020. What follows below is the text version of the video interview that took place on August 13.
Krzysztof Chomicki, game and level designer onCarrion
Oleg Nesterenko, managing editor at GWO: Krzysztof, a couple of words about yourself and the studio, please.
Im the game and level designer at Phobia Game Studio. Were a very small development team based in Poland. We all work remotely. Im based in Krakow, Sebastian Krokiewicz, who is the brains behind the whole studio and our project, lives in Warsaw. Our sound designer, Maciej Niedzielski, is based in Zielona Gra, which is next to the German border. And on Carrion, video game and film composer Cris Velasco joined our team, hes from LA. He did the music for the game.
Carrion team.From left to right:project leadSebastian Krokiewicz,game/level designerKrzysztof Chomicki, composerCris Velasco,sound designerMaciej Niedzielski
How did you first meet with Sebastian and decide to form a studio?
We both got hired a couple of years ago by Transhuman Design. Its a company set up by Michal Marcinkowski. His studio is behind Soldat and Soldat 2, King Arthurs Gold, and Trench Run. He hired Sebastian for a particular project, which eventually got scrapped, but at the time Sebastian was working on his own game called Butcher, and Michal liked it enough to decide to produce it as Transhuman Design and publish it.
Eventually, they decided to expand the team behind Butcher. They were looking for a level designer, and thats how I got on board. At some point, Maciej joined the team as a composer. We liked working with each other so much that we decided to form our own studio, and thats how Phobia and the core team behind Carrion came to be.
Its been three weeks since you unleashed Carrion onto the world. Whats going on at the studio right now?
Weve just published a major patch, which is live on Steam and Xbox already. It should be live on Switch fairly soon. We are also thinking about some updates, like workshop support for the Steam version.
But mostly, we just want to get the post-release support done and maybe the PlayStation port and then to take some time off.
The last couple of weeks was pretty intense. Especially since it was a multi-platform release, which we didnt have previous experience with because Butcher was ported to consoles not by us, but by Crunching Koalas.
Just like Carrion, Butcher also had players kill people as an antagonistic entity, and it was a relative success. Does it mean that Carrion was a relatively low-risk project and you were confident that theres a demand for this formula?
Its not like we knew that a game about an amorphous meat blob would sell. When Sebastian started prototyping the monsters movement and eating mechanics, he shared some gifs on Twitter. They clicked incredibly well, especially compared to what we had with Butcher. Soon after this, publishers started approaching us and asking about the game. Yes, its still too early, they said. But once you have a vertical slice and some proper prototype demo, come back to us and well see what we can do.
Thats when we knew that theres definitely a potential in this project.
You said before that early in development, you used real-time feedback on Twitter to help shape Carrion. How did it work?
At first, we werent sure what kind of game we wanted to make, other than it being loosely inspired by The Thing (1982). We were just exploring the controls for this amorphous creature. We also had the general idea for the eating mechanic, which is that you grow larger and more powerful as you eat more people. And that was pretty much the only thing set in stone from the very beginning.
Everything else we experimented with, posting some gifs on Twitter, and whatever resonated best with people clued us in on which direction we should follow.
Does the player control just one monster? Should there be more monsters? Should we make it an RTS game, with you commanding multiple creatures?
Interestingly enough, we didnt implement any of the mechanics we were testing on Twitter. So, the core of the game has not changed since the very beginning. Twitter comments just validated our intuition, which led us to this kind of metroidvania-based exploration / puzzle platformer without platforming.
Carrions engine is built on the MonoGame framework. Would you please explain your choice of the tech behind the game?
Actually, Butcher, our previous game, was done in Unity. At the time we shipped Butcher and started looking into Carrion, Unity had its both advantages and disadvantages. The advantage was that you could get something up and running very quickly. However, optimizing it, finding bugs and general quirks of the engine wasnt that easy. I dont know if its still the case with the latest version.
For Butcher, Sebastian even developed his own 2D lighting system instead of using what Unity had built in. And it gave us a massive performance boost.
So Sebastian figured out that for the game to feel good on low-spec hardware, while having at least 60 FPS, with no frame drops, it would be easier for him to write something from scratch. He was doing it anyway. The engine was just giving us some unnecessary overhead.
Sebastian looked into MonoGame, liked it enough to decide to go with it, and we are pretty proud of how the game works on relatively crappy computers.
And there is also no fee for using MonoGame, which is always a bonus. I wouldnt, however, recommend building your own engine for everything. It requires a particular set of skills. Sebastian being a very talented programmer, it worked out pretty well in our case. But Im definitely not surprised that many teams are sticking with Unity, Unreal or GameMaker.
Unity and Unreal make most sense if you want realistic graphics. If you could have afforded it for Carrion, I wonder if you would have gone for the same level of gore and violence that you now have in the game?
To be honest, I dont think it would have worked with extremely realistic graphics. It wouldve lost a lot of its charm and even comedy. Carrion is one of those games that might act as if they are dead serious, but they arent. With all the screams and everything being so over the top, it works very well in the pixel art style.
And Im not sure it would be a good idea to do it either in high-def 2D or 3D. It would probably turn into an actual horror game, and we didnt want our game to be scary to the player. You are the one whos making NPCs scared, but you yourself should feel exhilarated running around as the monster. So I think this level of abstraction that pixel art gives us is very beneficial in this case.
Physics simulation creates all sorts of fun incidents, but it also takes away from the precision of controls. Like you try to gently close the door, but instead you rip it off! Or you occasionally expose one of your blobs. Did you struggle with that when designing the game?
90 or 95% of the monster is physics-based and procedurally generated. Theres a couple of sprites, like the mouths or the eyes. Obviously, it did pose some problems in terms of responsiveness. We did our best to give the players as much control over the creature as possible, given its nature. But its always a tradeoff.
There were also some quirks in level design. Especially with the monster in its largest form, we had to be very careful. For example, if you pull this switch and some door closes, it can cut you in half because some of your blobs just happened to be there, half a screen away. Things like that dont happen in other games with regular-sized characters, which only fit two tiles. It was pretty tough for us.
As for somewhat loose controls, I think it actually works pretty well onthe narrative level, because even if you want to remove a soldier or a scientist from a group and you just end up killing everybody, well, what can you do it? Just one of the disadvantages of being a monster, I suppose.
Yeah. Narratively and thematically, it fits, so its not a major problem. No ludo-narrative dissonance. Controls dont need to be uber-precise since the monster is kind of messy.
You could do a crossover between Butcher and Carrion. Combine two very different types of gameplay with the cyborg from Butcher being very precise and the monster being sloppy and messy.
That would not be impossible to doButImnot confirming any crossovers!A good point, though, about Butchers controls being very precise. In Butcher, we had pixel-perfect precision when it comes to movement. And all the arenas and the platforms were designed with extremely smooth and precise movement in mind. Carrion is the opposite because the monster isnt that precise and it doesnt even require any platforms because it can just go anywhere it wants.
Technology versus nature. Anyway, I also like how many of Carrions systems are interconnected. The roar button, for example, lets you roar, which is fun in itself. At the same time, it allows you to locate a savepoint. But it also alerts NPCs on the level, which you can tactically use. Did you specifically design stuff like that to serve multiple purposes? Or did it just organically come together as the game evolved?
I think its a bit of both, depending on which system we are talking about. Some things were planned and some just came naturally as the game was evolving.
We knew quite early on that wed lock particular skills into particular sizes of the monster. We call it the mass-based class system. This system allowed us to come up with more creative puzzles than in most metroidvanias, in which solving puzzles is just a matter of obtaining the right skill.
The mass-based class system also added more variety to combat because there isnt one single winning strategy for all encounters. Puzzles force you into changing your size so you have to constantly adjust your tactic.
Thats something we knew pretty much from the get-go and something that was entirely planned. Other things kind of evolved along the way, like the echolocation. Initially, it was just a roar button and it didnt have the echolocation functionality. Thats something that was added later on.
In general, we are big fans of things that serve multiple purposes and add some depth without adding unnecessary complexity. The fewer buttons to remember, the better.
What does it mean to create levels for a monster to navigate as opposed to those designed for humanoid characters?
Its just a nightmare in many ways. One thing you dont really think about is how important gravity is in most games, especially in action adventure platformers. Its pretty much the most common obstacle other than having to fight enemies or open doors. You have to get somewhere high or avoid falling down. Gravity is something you take for granted, and once you take it away from the game, suddenly you have to figure out a completely new way of setting up challenges, obstacles and puzzles for the monster.
Asthe monster, when you see some place, you can just go there by pointing your mouse or analogue stick. It really flipped everything on its head. We couldnt have actual outdoor segments because the monster could just go everywhere. So theres always a ceiling, even in the most outdoor-ish chambers. Obviously, its a lot of work.
And also the sheer speed at which the monster moves is a major problem for level design. In most games, half of the time you just walk from point A to point B. In Carrion, though, its a matter of seconds to go from the beginning of the map to the end, if there are no obstacles, no enemies. So we had to get very creative.
You may have noticed that in flashback sequences, when youre controlling the scientists, their movement is totally different, despite utilizing the same environments. A chamber that would take a second or two to traverse as the monster takes you half a minute to get through. So it amplifies the sense of what the monster is capable of and how frightening it is to the humans who move so slowly and are very limited in their traversal abilities.
So the metroidvania-like design was born out of your ambition to step up the challenge for the monster?
It wasnt so much about upping the difficulty. We just wanted to give the game more depth, boost its exploration aspect. As soon as we figured that throughout the game the monster would be learning new skills that it could use to unlock new areas, to solve puzzles, it was just our natural instinct to go for a more or less metroidvania-like approach. Although its not really your ordinary metroidvania with everything respawning everywhereand every puzzle being extremely simple. We didnt want to respawn every single object in the environment. We wanted to maintain this feeling of the horror that the monster is bringing on humans, so you need to see your havoc. Everything that you broke, everyone you killed and everybody you spared stays there for the whole game.
So despite Carrion having those core principles of metroidvania (not being able to go there yet, first needing to acquire the new skill), we kind of streamlined it. You dont have to do an awful lot of backtracking in our game. Which is why, once you enter a new area, its locked off, and you are restricted to this contained area you have to work through. It lessens the confusion because it helps avoid situations in which someone would approach a puzzle and start wondering whether they can solve that puzzle or not yet. Because sometimes you backtrack to the very beginning even though you were actually able to solve this or that puzzle. It was just a matter of coming up with the right solution.
I did get lost a couple of times exploring the dungeons. And apparently, other people did. I saw folks posting their maps of the facility on Reddit to help their fellow players. In retrospect, do you feel like an in-game map might have been a good idea?
Im fairly confident that some reviewers would have given us higher scores, if there was an in-game map. I still think it would really detract from the experience. It would make the game genuinely worse. Its like with Demons Souls and Dark Souls, those games being vastly misunderstood at first by the majority of reviewers. Especially Demons Souls didnt review all that well because the game didnt explicitly tell you what to do. Those games didnt have any maps. But eventually a few people figured out what those games were about. They were just hearkening back to times when games respected the player a bit more and didnt do any kind of handholding.
In fact, you still have this conversation going on 10 years later, like should Sekiro have an easy mode? No, it shouldnt.
And I think its kind of similar with Carrion. Games nowadays make people expect a map to guide you everywhere, even if its not really necessary. Players are so used to having a map that they stop paying attention to environmental clues or directions that the game gives them.
The original Metroid didnt have a map and it was totally fine and nobody complained. Back in the day, even games that did have maps still required you to pay attention to the environment. In Morrowind, for example, the quest log only gave you the general directions, like go North, find this rock, and then turn right and hope for the best. Its something that Oblivion totally ruined for me. It just points you in the right direction or you can simply fast-travel, theres barely any sense of exploration and discovery in post-Oblivion RPGs. If more developers decided to focus on just environmental clues, people would stop expecting to have the map available at all times.
Im very happy, though, that people are making their own maps to help each other, it strengthens the community.
Both Butcher and Carrion allow users to integrate their own custom levels. Is it a feature that you consciously put in your games?
In the case of Butcher, we used our own in-game level editor while making the game. It was relatively easy to adapt it to the general public. We just figured, why not? Anyway, it wasnt very popular with fans, even though some people did make maps. And in the case of Carrion, its actually the total opposite. This time, we used a third party tool called Tiled, which is a map editor used in various games. Once we posted the alpha sneak peek demo back in October last year, someone asked what we were using for editing levels. When I told them it was Tiled, people started coming up with their own maps, using the demo assets. We didnt lock any functionalities away from people. People are still making maps. The most dedicated modder in our community has already made a custom campaign, which should take around two hours to beat or so, and its very cool. So its something we want to capitalize on, which is why were looking into the workshop support, as I mentioned.
We definitely want to make creating and downloading custom maps easier. Its not so hard right now, you need to download a level file and the script file and put them in the corresponding folders. But nowadays its expectedthateverything should be just a single click away, so were looking into our options in making the whole experience smoother.
A couple of words about music and sound design. How did it feel for you guys to work with Cris Velasco?
It was great. Cris did music for Overwatch, Mass Effect, Borderlands, God of War, Resident Evil 7, and Bloodborne. What he brought to the table is the sheer knowledge of working on those AAA titles. In fact, we wanted to orchestrate the whole soundtrack. We pretty much had everything set up for an actual orchestra recording. But the pandemic messed up our plans and we ended up recording soloists only a violinist and a cellist.
Funnily enough, it was Cris who approached us after seeing some of our gifs on Twitter. He found Sebastian on FB and said he would like to write the soundtrack for Carrion. After seeing his portfolio, we obviously decided to let him!
When the credit rolled, I counted 16 voice actors in the game without a line of dialogue. How come?
Its all screams. We told our sound designer Maciej that theres a limit on every sound. Theres only this many sounds for door breaking, wood cracking or the monster roaring. But there was one sound that didnt have a limit on the quantity and variety of it. It was screaming. We wanted to have as many screams as possible. When we revealed the game at an E3, we didnt have all those recorded yet, and people actually complained about having to listen to the same samples over and over again. Its something we went all in on.
Finally, any words of wisdom to your fellow devs?
Never make games in which the character is amorphous and you never know how large and how long it gets. Stick to your fixed-sized character. Its for your own sanity.
You mignt wantto check out the extended video version of the interview with Krzysztof:
Posted: at 3:07 pm
A paper published recently in the Journal of Medical Ethics explores the relationship between disability and enhancement, and the importance of social context and environment in how they get defined. According to the group of authors, led by Nicholas Greig Evans, a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, the most popular ways of thinking about disability and impairment often either discount certain types of disability or patronize the person with the impairment.
Going further, the authors explain how popular accounts tend to ignore how social stereotypes about disability can impact even those who do not identify as disabled or impaired themselves:
the tendency to focus on specific and often paradigmatic cases of disability and elide discussion of enhancement has a serious downside: it has the potential, among other things, to keep us from understanding cases of disability and impairment that are less apparent and well recognized. Aside from limiting our knowledge and understanding, it also keeps us from making interventions or undertaking further research that might concretely assist those populations . . .
There have been many different models of disability proposed over time, ranging from models based on social factors and human rights to those that link disability to technology. Recent events, like the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated economic and climate disasters, moreover, serve as ongoing reminders of how our abilities to act freely as individuals are always shaped by the broader socioeconomic dimensions of our lives. This insight echoes what critical psychologists have been saying for decades.
According to Evans and the other authors, most people thinking seriously about these issues agree that disability is a widely heterogeneous set of phenomena, so much so, they note that some have argued it to be a meaningless category in the abstract. For them, most existing models dont account for the way assumptions about disability are intertwined with assumptions about enhancement, insofar as both are shaped by which skills happen to be considered most valuable in a given social setting.
How we define either disability or enhancement, they propose, depends on how we compare the behaviors of a specific individual with a statistically relevant cohort group. Cohort group studies track changes in behavior and expressed capacities over time across individuals who live under similar conditions.
With this in mind, the authors suggest it could be useful to think about human abilities in general in terms of the concept of capacity space, which they define as the dynamic relationship between an individual person and their social and environmental milieu. From this perspective, phenomena we tend to call disability are inherently dynamic because they change over time, and they are relational because they are constituted through interactions between persons and the social tools (e.g., digital technology) they have available.
The concept of capacity space, the authors propose, provides a useful starting point for understanding the full variability and breadth of disability as a ubiquitous characteristic of the human species. To help illustrate this, they present a series of case studies that depict experiences of disability and enhancement that are often overlooked in the literature.
For example, they point to certain dysgenic effects in soldiers after WWI, where a high number of casualties left young men who were previously considered physically unfit among the only individuals available for military service.
In this instance, individuals who had been considered disabled relative to other soldiers before the war could have become normal, or even enhanced, simply because the cohort group against which they were judged had changed. This, the authors explain, is an example of how ones capacity space can be transformed even when ones individual abilities remain relatively consistent.
Another example they discuss is the many different variations of chronic pain. This is true both within the same individual as well as across different individuals. Some days are, of course, better than others, with factors ranging from diet, climate, and social contact, possibly having some effect on how chronic pain is experienced and managed at any given time.
Symptoms related to a diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), a hypermobility condition, for instance, might be relatively mild when compared to other individuals who are diagnosed with the same condition:
At times, the person is simply more flexible and mobile than their cohort, making them a better spokesperson. At other times, their joints dislocate unexpectedly, and they are incapacitated in significant ways. Is this person enhanced, disabled, or both, relative to their cohort?
Thinking about disability as something that any human can experience under the right set of conditions, and in entirely personal ways, represents a clear departure from approaches like welfarism, which posits a clearly defined line between disability and ability.
The authors define welfarist approaches to disability as those that posit a stable physiological or psychological property of a subject S that leads to a significant reduction of Ss level of well-being in some circumstance. From this perspective, disability is defined not according to how an individual can perform socially, but according to how the individuals sense of well-being is impacted by one of their personal traits.
Enhancement, by contrast, would be defined under welfarism by any stable property of a person that leads to a significant increase in that persons well-being. By focusing on psychological well-being, rather than social structures or medical status, the authors suggest, welfarist approaches to disability and enhancement account for something important that other models tend to ignore.
And yet, by framing disability as something intrinsic to each individual person, and defining welfare solely in terms of well-being, welfarist accounts risk marginalizing the consequences of prejudice and institutional discrimination for those who do not conform to conventional social expectations. They also fail to adequately account for the ways disabilities have different social implications across time and space, beyond individual well-being.
Such dimensions, the authors claim, are essential to experiences of disability. With their concept of capacity space, they underscore how time and space are not abstract categories; like disability itself, they are complex social realities that shape what individuals consider possible for themselves and others.
The authors are also cautious not to discount sociohistorical accounts of disability. Instead, they describe their project as complementary to such accounts. And yet, the importance of economics and social factors related to race and gender are given relatively little attention in their article.
It is hard to imagine how a cohort, or any other social group, for that matter, could be considered relevant to a persons lived-experience without accounting for the way self-image and self-performance are assigned value today largely in terms of capital.
Under current conditions of global capitalism, social networks are unavoidably shaped by the technologies, information, and capital that its members have access to. Indeed, enhancement and technology are so obviously linked in todays hyperconnected world that it would make little sense to propose a concept of one that cannot account for the other.
While statisticians have the luxury of selecting cohort groups based on analytic convenience, this is not true for those whose embodied natures fail to align with the skills deemed most valuable in todays information-based markets. These are issues that movements like transhumanism and posthumanism have been engaging with for decades, but they are, unfortunately, not given much attention by the authors of this paper.
Evans, N. G., Reynolds, J. M., & Johnson, K. R. (2020). Moving through capacity space: Mapping disability and enhancement. Journal of Medical Ethics. (Link)
Posted: August 26, 2020 at 3:43 pm
Image: Screen shot from That Hideous Strength: C.S. Lewis's Prophetic Warning against the Abuse of Science.
Editors note: Published on August 16, 1945,C. S. LewissThat Hideous Strengthis a dystopian novel that eerily reflects the realities of 2020, putting into a memorable fictional form ideas expressed in Lewiss non-fiction work, The Abolition of Man. To mark the former books three-quarter century anniversary,Evolution Newspresents a series of essays, reflections, and videos about its themes and legacy.
James A. Herrick is the Guy Vander Jagt Professor of Communication at Hope College in Holland, MI. His books include The Making of the New Spirituality: The Eclipse of the Western Religious Tradition.
This post is adapted from Chapter 10 ofThe Magicians Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, edited by John G. West. See also,
Not surprisingly, contemporary Transhumanism has attracted a number of informed critics. I will briefly review two prominent voices in the opposition camp who reflect concerns at the heart of C. S. Lewiss own case. Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, a skeptic as regards the Transhumanist vision, echoes one of the central arguments of The Abolition of Man biotechnology now threatens to exercise control of nature itself:
Due to genetic engineering, humans are now able not only to redesign themselves but also to redesign future generations, thereby affecting the evolutionary process itself. As a result, a new posthuman phase in the evolution of the human species will emerge, in which humans will live longer, will possess new physical and cognitive abilities, and will be liberated from suffering and pain due to aging and diseases. In the posthuman age, humans will no longer be controlled by nature; instead, they will be the controllers of nature.1
The question of altering human nature also remains at the center of the developing case against Transhumanism and related proposals. Famed historian Francis Fukuyama, for example, has argued that contemporary biotechnology raises the possibility that it will alter human nature and thereby move us into a posthuman stage of history. This possibility poses a real danger to individual rights and threatens the foundation of democratic institutions:
This is important because human nature exists, is a meaningful concept, and has provided a stable continuity to our experience as a species. It is, conjointly with religion, what defines our most basic values. Human nature shapes and constrains the possible kinds of political regimes, so a technology powerful enough to reshape what we are will have possibly malign consequences for liberal democracy and the nature of politics itself.2
Though the deeper dangers of biotechnological alterations of humans have not yet manifested themselves, Fukuyama adds, one of the reasons I am not quite so sanguine is that biotechnology, in contrast to many other scientific advances, mixes obvious benefits with subtle harms in one seamless package.3 The essential correctness of Lewiss case is evident in the duration of major components in his rebuttal to Bernal, Stapledon, Haldane, Shaw and other enhancement proponents of his own day.
C. S. Lewis exhibited remarkable prescience in The Abolition of Man. Was there anything that he failed to see? Writing in the war years of the early 1940s, Lewiss perspective was understandably shaped by present circumstance and personal experience. As a result, he did not anticipate certain cultural and historical developments that have become critical to the rise of posthumanity thinking.
As noted, Lewis harbored a deep antipathy for faceless state institutions where atrocities are plotted out according to cost-benefit pragmatism and inhuman schemes are hatched in dingy meeting rooms. In such settings was the banality of evil expressed in war-torn Europe. Lewis does not appear to have anticipated the postwar power of the large corporation, the modern research university, and sophisticated mass media. Such shapers of 21st-century American culture, not the cumbersome state agencies of mid-century Europe, have taken the lead in developing the biotechnologies, educational techniques and persuasive prowess Lewis cautioned against. The user-friendly smile of the high-tech firm, not the icy stare of a government department, is the face of the new humanity. Moreover, justifications for enhancement research are not hammered out in centralized planning meetings, but tested on focus groups and winsomely presented in entertaining public lectures. Financial support for posthumanity comes not come from Big Brother bureaucracies but from Silicon Valley boardrooms.
The scope of research related to human enhancement is incomprehensibly vast and accelerating at an incalculable rate. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of university and corporate research facilities around the world are involved in developing artificial intelligence, regenerative medicine, life-extension strategies, and pharmaceutical enhancements of cognitive performance. An ever-increasing number of media products including movies, video games and novels promote Transhumanist and evolutionist themes. Each technological breakthrough is promoted as a matter of consumerist necessity despite the fact that personal electronic devices and the companies marketing them are increasingly intrusive and corrosive of personal freedoms. Innovative educational organizations such as Singularity University are forming around the Transhumanist ideal. Indeed, so immense, diverse and well-funded is the research network developing enhancement technologies that the collective financial and intellectual clout of all related projects is beyond calculating. Suffice it to say that the enhancement juggernaut is astonishingly large and powerful.
Tomorrow, Science and Scientism: The Prophetic Vision of C. S. Lewis.
Read more from the original source:
CS Lewis and Critical Reactions to Transhumanism - Discovery Institute