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Visionaries and ‘Understanding SENS Foundation’

I’ve had a lot of positive responses to my recent blog post about the SENS Foundation, but I’m slightly worried that I may have failed in my attempt to emphasise that this, isn’t about reprioritization, renunciation, or disenfranchisement. It is about recognizing the value of all our stakeholders, and of all the consequences of our activities.

There’s a very thoughtful post over at Fight Aging, by Reason, in which it is remarked that:

A second important point in Marr’s post concerns moving beyond one’s origins. It’s no great secret that the transhumanist and futurist community did more than their share in helping to make the Methuselah Foundation and SENS viable and ongoing concerns. But it is traditional in every movement’s growth to marginalize the smaller groups and subcultures that helped it to get off the ground – we should look on it as a sign of progress when it happens. Changes start at the fringe, and as they move inward their rebellious origins are buried, one by one, and everyone pretends that they never existed.

For me, and the Foundation, our growth is extremely important, but it has more to do with widening our support base, inclusively, than it has to do with shifting it from one group to another.  We recognize that the transhumanist and futurist communities not only did more than their fair share, but continue to do so.

At the same time, there are other communities to which we believe rejuvenation biotechnologies have a great deal to offer, and from which we would like to engender support.  The ‘approachability’ of the Foundation, for these communities, has been somewhat restricted by the narratives describing our work and its impact, in the past.  Finding the right language to explain our work, and acknowledging the full breadth of its impact, is key to our growth and our ability to deliver.

In that sense we are moving beyond [our] origins, but that movement doesn’t entail our leaving anyone behind.  It’s true that I wrote that SENS Foundation, as an organization, isn’t transhumanist, or futurist.  However, that the organization is not those things – that it doesn’t define itself in those terms any more than other (bio)medical charities – does not mean that it doesn’t seek and enjoy the support of individuals who do identify with those terms.

For me, the word which best describes our supporters, and the individuals and groups who have done, and continue to do, so much to help our mission, is visionary.  They are the people who have seen the potential of rejuvenation biotechnology, from its earliest days, and they are the people who we hope will share that vision with others, in the broader terms which are necessary.  If my previous post lacked the sense of gratitude which they deserve, I hope this post corrects that.

Tell the world.

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There are 7 comments for this post.

  1. Pete Johnston December 2, 2010

    Thank you Sarah, You are wonderful, Sens is wonderful, Aubrey is wonderful.
    I do so appreciate your efforts, keep up the good work.

    • ScienceDoll December 3, 2010

      Thanks Pete. Whilst I’m quite sure that others would disagree with your assessment of me, do feel free to spread the word!

  2. Lars Næsbye Christensen December 3, 2010

    Futurism and transhumanism are ideological concepts, abstract visions (and nothing wrong with that!)
    Getting from those to actual realization is going to take focused organisations such as SENS Foundation. You need to split things into seperate areas, and then into projects.

    So I don’t see a problem, actually. SENS Foundation is a manifestation of what has long been a wish for many humans. It existed before transhumanism was coined, before futurism was coined. (And, I might add, futurism was an avantgarde art movement celebrating not only machines but also death and war as cleansing, fueling the later fascist movement…).

    I don’t think the researchers working on biomedical gerontology should be distracted by mind uploading, cryogenics et cetera, let alone composite speculations about how, say, nanotechnology and ethics will converge in a post-scarcity setting on Enceladus.

    I am both a transhumanist and a big supporter of SENS Foundation. But I think it’s wise to not let SENS Foundation be yet another generic transhumanist organisation. I have no problem letting SENS Foundation work on life extension, Singularity Institute and OpenCog work on AGI, and so on…

  3. Trent Eady December 3, 2010

    Sounds good- rejuvenation biotech has the potential to improve everyone’s lives, so it makes sense that there’s a diverse group of people interested in SENS, and that SENS wants to be welcoming to that whole range of people.

    A related but separate question: are there SENS foundation materials in more than one language? The website is only available in English (Google Translate doesn’t count).

    • ScienceDoll December 3, 2010

      There are plans to get the website into different languages, probably as part of the next upgrade which we’re hoping to deliver in early 2011.

      • Lars Næsbye Christensen December 6, 2010

        I can offer a Danish translation, if you wish :-)

        • ScienceDoll December 8, 2010

          I’ll make sure the right person in the team gets the offer, Lars. Thanks!


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