Re: Practical Extropianism

Anders Sandberg (
Wed, 7 May 1997 11:06:56 +0200 (MET DST)

On Tue, 6 May 1997, Crosby_M wrote:

> Anders wrote that
> <Most of the information is quite unreliable. I suggest looking at the
> original papers>
> Still, I'm not sure all the fragmented, original medical research
> papers would be very useful to the average person.

Yes, most papers are hard to understand even for the experts, especially
since there are plenty of subtlities of methodology to take into account.

> My approach was to
> get *just* a general, vague description of these substances, try them,
> and *only then* compare my experiences the annecdotes. This was the
> closest I could come to a 'blinded' study.

Well, that would likely convince you about some of the substances, but it
would not be a valid test and it would not really tell us anything about
how well they actually work (we need blind testing for that). Of course,
it is much better than reading the hype and believing it.

> The purpose of my post,
> yesterday, on nicotine was to illustrate just how extremely difficult
> and expensive it would be to document all the complex interactions
> related to these substances in a completely scientific and useful
> way.

Yes, and nicotine is still one of the best researched substances. That it
has nootropic effects appears quite clear, but these effects are quite
complex and not all positive. In general, the idea of nootropics only
having positive cognitive effects and no side-effects is *very* unlikely,
although some drugs likely will be able to come close in some respects.
After all, if a substance improved my working memory at the expense of
perception, I might be interested in using it anyway under certain

> IOW, as long as the danger appears to be minimal, better to just do
> your own experiments rather than waste hundreds of hours combing the
> medical literature or waiting years and years for objective,
> non-commercial studies that may never be conducted.

Well, it is your money and body. But I think it is stupid to not attempt
to find out more about what you try to use before using it - after all,
most of the claims are quite unfounded, and there are some dangers even
in quite safe supplements.

> Anders also wrote:
> <You don't want current implants, believe me (I'm studying implant
> technology for fun right now. BTW, as an exercise I will have to write
> an analysis/idea for a novel implant (ideally for medical use) based
> on today's capabilities: any ideas for an implant in need of
> development?).>
> In my earlier response to litenite I gave an example of a current
> 'cyborg' technology (Xybernaut's $5K Mobile Assistant
> speech-activated, head-mounted display for maintenance manuals). I
> said "somewhat facetious" because I'd really love to have such a
> device to access my own systems and the Web, anytime, anywhere.

Me too. But I would likely turn into one of the gargoyles in _Snow Crash_ :-)

> SO, the next step, and my idea for one of the first practical
> semi-implant devices, would be subvocalizing speech-activation device.

Yes, this seems to be a nice idea. I am not entirely sure this can't be
done using a microphone taped to the throat or something similar, but it
might be useful for some people.

> On second thought, this could probably just be some sort of necklace.
> I was thinking that this would be something implanted in the throat
> with some sort of lead coming out through the skin to connect to an
> external electronic device. Still, some type of simple implant such
> as this with an external connection that avoids infectious and
> immunolgical problems would be an nice advance (unless something
> similar has already been done?)

I don't know if anybody has done it, but I will look into the subject.
The big problem is having leads penetrating the skin, that is a real mess
and somewhat dangerous. It might be possible to send signals through
telemetry instead (like some pacemakers do). An even more ambitious
version would be an implant that read cortical activity and sent it to a
receiver; it *might* be possible to get useful information from that, but
I'm not sure.

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y