TranscendSphere: Your Weekly Guide to the World of Transhumanity #007

Hello, TranscendSphere community!,

This week, we’re delving into 

  • groundbreaking medical advancements, 
  • probing ethical dilemmas in voice-altering technology, 
  • and pondering over the future of human value. 

Whether you’re a science enthusiast, an ethics aficionado, or someone who’s intrigued by the ever-evolving interface between humans and technology, this week’s roundup promises a captivating journey. 

So sit back, and let’s jump in!

Revolutionary ‘Inverse Vaccine’ Promises to Turn the Tide on Autoimmune Diseases, Without Suppressing the Immune System

Researchers at the University of Chicago have crafted a revolutionary “inverse vaccine” that could completely turn around autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and Crohn’s disease. Unlike typical vaccines, which teach your immune system to attack invaders like viruses or bacteria, this new vaccine does the opposite. It essentially makes your immune system forget to attack certain parts of your body, essentially ‘erasing’ the mistake that leads to autoimmune diseases in the first place.

The beauty of this is that the vaccine doesn’t shut down your entire immune system, which would leave you vulnerable to all sorts of other diseases. Instead, it acts very specifically, targeting only the misguided parts of the immune response. The research team led by Prof. Jeffrey Hubbell achieved this by mimicking a natural process that happens in the liver, which helps the immune system distinguish between friend and foe. By attaching specific molecules to a sugar called N-acetylgalactosamine (pGal), they were able to ‘educate’ the immune system to tolerate specific substances it was mistakenly attacking.

What’s super exciting is that they’ve already shown in lab tests that this approach can stop and even reverse symptoms of these autoimmune diseases. So, this isn’t just preventative; it could actually serve as a treatment for people who are already suffering from these conditions.

Existing treatments for autoimmune diseases often involve broadly suppressing the immune system, which has a host of side effects, like making you more susceptible to infections. This new “inverse vaccine” could be a game-changer because it aims to eliminate those issues by being highly targeted.

Early-phase human trials are already underway, which means the next big steps are just around the corner. While it’s not yet clinically approved, the potential here is staggering and could make life vastly better for millions of people affected by autoimmune diseases.

Click here to read article and access sources

Also in the (Medical) news this week

Elon Musk’s Neuralink Gets FDA Nod for Human Trials: A New Horizon in Brain-Computer Interfaces

Elon Musk’s start-up Neuralink has gotten the green light from the FDA to start human trials for its brain-computer interface (BCI) technology. The goal is to enable people with paralysis to control computers through thought alone. In the planned six-year study, a robot will implant thin, flexible threads into the brain, allowing an experimental device to record and wirelessly transmit brain signals.

Neuralink aims to test this technology on individuals with quadriplegia or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). However, they’re not the only players in the game. Companies like Utah-based Blackrock Neurotech have been implanting BCIs for years, and Precision Neuroscience, founded by a Neuralink co-founder, is also in the mix with its own unique approach.

While Neuralink’s robotic assistance in implantation has been touted as an advantage, questions remain about the long-term accuracy and reliability of their brain signal interpretation.

Changing Accents, Dodging the Real Issues: My Ethical Concerns about Sanas’ AI Voice-Altering Tech

This week I read about Sanas, a startup that’s created an AI tool to modify the accents of non-American call centre employees, making them sound like white Americans. 

The company says it’s all about improving relationships and even “deepening empathy,” but something in my gut tells me we’re skating on thin ethical ice here. 

Sure, the call centre agents who’ve tried this voice-altering technology have reported some positive experiences. But to me, it seems like a Band-Aid solution that’s missing the point.

Imagine erasing the unique cadences and textures of someone’s voice, their linguistic identity, just to fit a mould. It doesn’t just put the onus on non-Westerners to adjust; it actually diminishes them, stripping away a part of their individuality. This technology could easily become a new standard in customer service, which already pressures agents to take on Americanized names and undergo voice “naturalisation” training.

I think the real issue we should be tackling is how to create a more humane, equitable workspace for these agents. This technology might offer a quick fix, but it avoids dealing with the underlying ethical problems that are much, much larger. So, while it could make life easier for the agents in the short term, it might actually make it harder to challenge and change the deeper issues at play.

What are your thoughts?… 

Yuval Noah Harari’s ‘Money’: Unveiling the Future of Human Value in an Algorithmic World

Somewhere in-between writing Sapiens, Homo Deus and 21 Lessons for the Twenty First Century, honouring his role as a professor in Israel and being a global thought leader, Yuval Noah Harari snuck out a little compendium called “Money”

Now, I am neither in the habit of reading books about money per se, nor would such a book automatically strike one as relevant to those interested in transhumanity. That is, until one gets to the second half of the book and the historian turns from the past to cast his gaze on the future, with staggering implications.

He takes on the subject of work – from which we earn money – and how this might look in the future, and he doesn’t pull his punches. 

One of the book’s most alarming messages is that “Humans are in danger of losing their economic value, because intelligence is decoupling from consciousness.” This highlights how money, or rather economic value, isn’t just a matter of resources but also closely tied to our identity and role in society.

Additionally, Harari challenges us to rethink the future of work by raising the issue: “The crucial problem isn’t creating new jobs. The crucial problem is creating new jobs that humans perform better than algorithms.” It’s a sobering thought that compels the reader to contemplate the very future of human value in an algorithm-driven world.

“Money” doesn’t just inform the reader about what money is; it urges one to think about what money could be, what it means for our humanity, and what it could signify for our future. A must-read for anyone interested in understanding the complexities of something we use every day but scarcely ponder deeply. Indubitably, we should definitely be doing more of the latter…

Charting the Titans: A Global Look at AI Investment and Innovation

Are you curious about which countries are leading the AI revolution? VisualCapitalist latest article (and excellent graphic!) offers a riveting snapshot of global AI investments, showcasing the United States and China as frontrunners in this high-stakes race. 

But the story doesn’t end there—countries like the United Kingdom, Israel, and Canada are also making remarkable strides. 

Want to know how this booming industry is affecting healthcare, fintech, and more? You won’t want to miss this extraordinary graphic, which ranks Artificial Intelligence Startups by Country. Dive in to discover where the future is being written!

From vaccines that rewrite the narrative on autoimmune diseases to the ethical mazes of AI voice technology, we’ve covered a lot today. 

As always, we’re thrilled to provide you this glimpse into the dynamic world of transhumanism. 

Let us know your thoughts, questions, or what you’d love to see in future editions. 

Until next week, keep transcending your sphere of understanding

Catch you in the next one!

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