"Free Science Clinic/Enclave" (Was: THE SOVEREIGN INDIVIDUAL)

From: GBurch1@aol.com
Date: Mon Jul 03 2000 - 17:13:44 MDT

In a message dated 7/1/00 5:30:00 PM Central Daylight Time, cymm@trinidad.net

> GREG BURCH SAID: "...organizing a well-funded, well-staffed and
> well-equipped clinic and research facility where "wide-open" life extension
> and other transhumanist technology can be carried forward. I've done quite
> a bit of thinking about what would be required, from a legal and business
> perspective, to accomplish this. If you're interested, I'd be happy to
> discuss it with you...."
> CYMM SAYS: I'm interested... theoretically at first. Maybe I'm paranoid;
> I see modern technology as having great potential to liberate those who
> understand and would have access to it.
> [snip]
> Greg, I'd entertain any discussion that does not run too much a risk of
> making me a marked man...

We're not at the point yet where we should be worried about becoming marked
men or women. Of course, that means that this is the time to start thinking
about what we might want to do. Here are some preliminary thoughts.

The scenarios that concern me are those involving medical techniques which
might become possible in the intermediate term that won't be available in
first world countries because of slow, bureaucratic approval processes and/or
fear of backlash from religious or other "bio-conservatives". A partial list
of candidates for this kind of thing are:

<> Breaking medical techniques or drugs that address specific diseases or
other maladies, such as the vesicular stomatitis virus oncology breakthrough
recently discussed here, or possibly some kind of nerve regeneration therapy
for Alzheimers or treatment of spinal chord injuries;

<> Germ line engineering. I'm aware of one small group that's considering a
kind of germ line therapy that would be completely impossible under FDA rules;

<> Bioelectronic interfaces. Implants for therapeutic purposes (such as
remediation of blindness, hearing loss or motor control), followed by early
implants for purely augmentation purposes (audio inputs, other sensory
enhancements); and

<> Somatic cell genetic engineering for purely augmentation purposes.

All of these things might be technically possible within the next 5-10 years,
but be practically unavailable outside of small research programs or outright

The physical plant of a clinic where some of this kind of thing could be done
would not necessarily cost a lot to build and maintain. The real problems
lie in the following areas:

<> Staffing: How do you find the medical doctors and other professionals
and technicians to man such a facility? The problems are obvious: You want
good people, but anyone involved in such a facility risks loss of
professional credentials and becoming a professional pariah.

<> Marketing: How do you promote the services of such a clinic? This
problem is closely related to the next problem, "Legal Regime". Even
assuming the issues in that problem area are solved, will it be legal to
market the clinic's services in the US, Canada, Europe and Japan, the target
areas? I don't know the answer to that question, but know that answering it
will be expensive. In any case, to make the effort pay, you'd have to devote
a substantial amount of money to marketing the services of the clinic.

<> Legal Regime: Where can you build the clinic so that it is able to carry
on its operations undisturbed? The choices are basically two: An island with
a legal regime that will tolerate the clinic, or a ship in international
waters. I know of a few candidates for the former choice, but a significant
amount of legal research has yet to be done to determine which ones are the
most amenable for siting of such a clinic. A significant budget would have
to be allocated to in-person contact with officials in more than one
candidate island for negotiation of the right to build and operate the
clinic. The ship option is very expensive, adding the entirety of maritime
operations to the cost of the clinic, and also adding the need for a home
port that the ship could call at in which it could be serviced without
harassment. Both options have the problem of customer access. The islands
that might host a transhumanist clinic are out of the way and not easy to
reach. A ship operating in international waters requires that customers
travel at least 200 miles offshore for services; a long and uncomfortable
boat ride, or an expensive and risky helicopter or seaplane ride, both
possible only in relatively good weather, and difficult for people with

The kinds of services discussed above seem to me to be the best bet for
initial establishment of a "free science" enclave, since other kinds of
technical work toward the transhumanist agenda will likely be possible in the
mainstream research community for somewhat longer. However, should attempts
be made to ban nanotech, other kinds of bioengineering or AI work be
seriously considered, a "free science" enclave could become a host for such
work, as well.

So, to summarize, what I see the need for is 1) a medial breakthrough with
clear value that is banned or taking too long to approve in the developed
world, 2) funding and 3) doctors and researchers with a LOT of guts. My
guess is that you'd need something in the low to mid $10s of millions to do
such a thing with any chance of success, assuming you could solve the other

       Greg Burch <GBurch1@aol.com>----<gburch@lockeliddell.com>
      Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide
      http://users.aol.com/gburch1 -or- http://members.aol.com/gburch1
                                           ICQ # 61112550
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                          -- Desmond Morris

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Oct 02 2000 - 17:33:55 MDT