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Saturday, April 09, 2005

Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Mitochondrial DNA

I wrote a little journalistic article on some work I did last year regarding the biological roots of Parkinson's disease (which I believe has implications for Alzheimer's as well).

The article is here. Read it. For those of you inclined toward sensationalism, there's even a part about a bad batch of heroin.

This work was done in collaboration with Drs. Davis Parker and Rafal Smigrodzki of the U. of Virginia, plus a bunch of my Biomind colleagues. I think it's rather nice stuff.

I don't find this sort of thing as rewarding as AGI work (and in a big-picture sense, I really do think that me spending so much time on stuff besides AGI is a big waste of the human race's resources ;-p), but even so, it's REALLY nice to be able to use narrow-AI technology for a really good purpose -- helping biologists to figure out the many ways in which the human organism degenerates and dies ... and how, hopefully, to repair these problems....

I do think that, via systematic biological research, we humans can beat aging and make our pathetic human bodies live effectively forever. Maybe we can even do it before ancient, 38-year-old Ben dies. I'm strongly in favor of increasing public funding for life extension research by a factor of 20, including full funding for Aubrey de Grey's fascinating proposals.

I don't think we need AGI to beat aging -- but I do think AGI, if we can create it, will be able to vastly accelerate the pace of research in all areas of biology, including life extension. This was my main idea in founding Biomind, although Biomind's work to date has been limited to some fairly small corners of biology (due to funding limitations, and due to the naturally slow pace of most rigorous scientific research). Even in these little corners we've managed to do some good, as this Parkinson's work illustrates. (Though in fact the Parkinson's work was a bit of a deviation from Biomind's primary research and product development, which has been in the area of microarray data analysis.) And we're poised to expand the scope of Biomind's work later this year with the release of a new product, yadda yadda yadda....

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