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hackabod

When I read The Singularity is Near, one of the sections which fascinated me most was the idea of creating artificial organs which were more efficient than our biological ones. Humans have been trying this for some time, but most of our major organs are too tightly ingrained in the central workings of our bodies to be either easily replicated, or replaced without causing a fair amount of damage to the systems organ is attached to. We can build a better system, but not until we totally understand the murky workings of the interchange between all our meaty bits, and we are pretty far off from that still.

Today, I was reading about the FDA tests of an Artificial Liver, and something rather frightening occurred to me, in the subtext of the article.

"The first pig cell-powered machine failed to win Food and Drug Administration approva</span> despite some tentative evidence that it improved outcomes."

Part of what has always fascinated me about cutting edge science is how much of it is self-tested, and hobbled together. Not the clean-room lab stuff being sold to government contractors - I'm talking ground-level change. What occurred to me, is that in addition to all the malarky surrounding imaginary property in this country, and the fact that in a generation, we are not going to be the shakers and movers in either the intellectual or innovation departments, is how much our own standards will choke us. The FDA is a good thing, back in the day when someone tried to sell you shoe polish cut with anise apertif, and tell you it cured stomach cancer. How many die, today, because the FDA doesn't think the science is "evolved enough" for anyone to be taking an insurance risk on it? Medicine today is about dollars, not sense.

The innovative stuff is going to be developed offshore, in small labs, and tested on a local population that doesn't even know what is going on. By the time someone hangs by thier thumbs for human rights infractions, cancer will be cured, or the heart will be fixable with a shot, and the billions rolling in will hush up the people upset about the whole nasty business. Failure will be the _only_ time you learn about the atrocitiy of developing the new.

What I find most amusing about all of this musing is that when something happens to me, or someone I care about, ym first instinct is old medicine, not new. A freind was recently diagnosed with a condition which brought out the old-school, which-doctor trained herbalist in me. I was surprised by how much I remembered, but was appalled at what I had forgotten (chamaelirium root is good for morning sickness). This information is ages old, and anyone with the time and inclanation can learn it.

How well does the last century and a half stand up against the last millenium and a half? Makes me wonder how different the world today would be if all those priestesses and midwives weren't killed by Inquisitors in the late 1400's.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
that6tall2girl
Feb. 5th, 2009 03:31 pm (UTC)
"a little bit of liver won't do the trick," made me smile. I've always wondered why the price tag even matters.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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delascabezas
The Son of the last of a long line of thinkers.
delascabezas.com

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