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FastForward Radio

Sunday night Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon hosted a panel on The Future of of Fit (and Fat). The panelists were PJ Manney, Brian Wang, and fitness expert and entrepreneur Shawn Phillips.

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Click "Continue Reading" for the show notes:

About the panelists:

shawnphillips.jpgShawn Phillips is an author, entrepreneur, and expert in the area of performance training and nutrition. He created the Full Strength® Premium Nutrition Shake, clinically proven to swap body fat for lean muscle. He is the author of ABSolution: The Practical Guide to Building Your Best Abs and has just released Strength for Life, published by Ballantine/Random House.

pjlittle.jpgPJ Manney is a writer and futurist and a leading voice in the H+ movement. She has written extensively on transhumanism and related topics, as well as for television (Xena Warrior Princess and Hercules the Legendary Journeys) , and has a novel under development. PJ is the Chairman of the board of directors of the World Transhumanist Association, she's a senior associate at the Foresight Nanotech Institute, and she is on the scientific advisory board for the Lifeboat Foundation.

brianlittle.jpgBrian L. Wang, M.B.A. is the Director of Research for the Lifeboat Foundation. Brian is a long time futurist who has been involved with nanotechnology associations since 1994. He is now a member of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN) Task Force where he moderates the technology sub-task force. He is also on the Nanoethics Group Advisory Board. He is also the mastermind behind Next Big Future.

The topics:

  • We got started by talking about the future of nutrition. Brian Wang mentioned vertical farming, genetically modified foods, vat meat, and a computerized nutritionists that resides "onboard" - we walk around with it and it informs us what and when we should optimally eat. We're already seeing this for diabetics. Maybe pre-diabetics - basically anyone who is fat - could use this kind of help as welll.

  • PJ mentioned the idea of "nutraceuticals" - food as medicine.

  • Phil mentioned the lesson of smoking. Getting the information out about how smoking harms health is, perhaps, part of the reduction of smoking. But the social stigma may have moved this even more. Stephen was thinking (but didn't get around to saying) that maybe we taxed smoking until it was reduced. Smoking, of course, is optional. We don't have to smoke to live. We do have to eat. Having the discipline to eat right when the world is full of tempting poor options is the difficulty.

  • PJ mentioned that we may be seeing a tiered system of nutrition. Some can afford to eat better. Brain Wang believes that convenience may be a larger reason that people eat poorly.

  • Stephen asked why there is a disconnect between our buff entertainers and our fat butts. Shawn believes the disconnect is caused by a lack of self awareness. We wait for the doctor to tell us we're dying before we pay attention to our health.

  • PJ mentioned the new documentary "Bigger, Stronger, Faster."

  • We talked about the promise of Myostatin inhibition. Whether caused with drugs or with genetic mutation myostatin inhibition makes cattle look like this:

    myostatin inhibited bull.JPG

    ...and dogs look like this:

    myostatin inhibited dog.jpg

    There have been some human cases where people lacked myostatin. Our panelist Brian Wang wrote about it here.

    Brian thinks that Myostatin inhibiting drugs will soon be available.

  • Stephen talked a little about his work out program. He wrote about it at length here.

  • Shawn Phillips made the point the people that are out of shape don't realize how bad they feel. Feeling bad becomes the new normal.

  • Brain Wang was on FastForward Radio back in November. We spoke with Brian about the crappy beta versions of human enhancement that some people are experimenting with today, often to their detriment. When will better enhancements be available?

  • Shawn half-jokingly suggested that we need a drug to make us take as much joy out of activity as a five-year-old. For them it's not exercise... it's play.

    So we got started talking about fun ways to exercise. Brain Wang mentioned Dragon Boating:


    Phil enjoys biking, Stephen enjoys the solitude of early morning exercise, PJ goes by a rigid schedule. They agreed that whatever gets you active is good.

    PJ mentioned that the kids in California are experimenting with Kite Surfing:

    Stephen was reminded of another new extreme sport - parabouncing:

And check out panelist Shawn Phillip's new book:


Our front bumper is a sample of Marginal Prophets' "The Difficult Song."

Our exit music this week is from Dirty Proper. The song is "Time."

Don't miss the FastForward music compilation:

The Best of Sunday Night Music, vol. 1

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We love audience participation. If you'd like to call in to the show, or get in on the FastForward Radio text chat, listen live! FastForward Radio goes live again next Sunday night:

10:00 Eastern/9:00 Central/8:00 Mountain/7:00 Pacific.

Get all the details at Blog Talk Radio. While there, check out the past shows in the archive.

We want your comments! Please leave your questions, suggestions, corrections, praise, or criticism in the comments section below.


On the subject of personal choice and enhancement:
Millions use steroids. I saw a survey result which said 80% use it for
better appearance instead of sports competition. (7 million is the the
number of users statistic that I have seen). It is an optional
performance enhancement.

Tens of millions use cosmetic surgery, including various kinds of liposuction.
Breast surgery and botox is sometimes correlated with improved
earnings (strippers, actors, models, waitresses - increased tips,

Tens of millions have lasik surgery and an increasing percentage end
up with better than 20-20 vision. I ended up with 20-15 from my lasik.
Tiger Woods had lasik and it can be argued that it helped his
performance reading greens even though he was using contacts before.
This is uncontroversial when the impact could be more than steroids.
Lasik can help with jobs of pilots and other occupations.

Tommy john surgery has been indicated to improve pitching performance.

I think when people are asked or choose on a case by case basis for
particular kinds of enhancement then there is less controversy and
ethical issues raised than when it is phrased as enhancement. Also,
there is less controversy when the result is not a level of
musculature or appearance which can be viewed as personally
threatening. Some breasts are enlarged to a level that is hardly
considered natural but it is generally not considered threatening.
There is usually not a discussion of level playing field for models or
strippers. There is an online website and donation system where woman
can apply to have donations for breast augmentation surgery.

Tens of millions are choosing various kinds of augmentation. It is
generally not controversial at the personal choice level.
Ove-regulation and restriction in the USA will mean more medical
tourism to Mexico and Asia. The high costs of the US medical system
are increasing the amount of medical tourism anyway. BLue cross is
setting up formal systems with overseas hospitals. China already has
approved gene therapy and stem cell procedures.



Gene therapy in China

The moral and ethical issues associated with less safe and effective
current technology (steroids) will not be the same for new procedures
which are far safer
and more effective.

Brain enhancement - drugs and devices

Framing transhumanist debate

20% of Nature readers use cognitive enhancers


Craig venter supports cognitive enhancement and mentions improvement
by 10 times. Was it an offhand remark or does his view of the genetic
research lead him to believe 10 times is an achievable goal. What
would that mean if he is right than genetic control would provide a
ten times enhancement in cognition.

We can look around society and see that we can stack the deck and
change the genetic hand that people have been dealt. Giving everyone
full houses, four of a kind or royal flushes with safe and effective
procedures is different than eugenics of the past.

We can look around the animal kingdom and see that being able to
integrate the best capabilities there into humans would have a huge
effect (this would not have to be radical appearance changing things,
muscles of gorilla or cheetah but without fur and claws etc...).
Clearly the deeper the enhancement then the more potential for
controversy, ick factor and ethical issues.
technology could reduce the need or work along side enhancements. For
breathing underwater. Compact Rebreather devices are available now and
artificial gill devices seem likely to be made.

- the best and most impactful enhancements
- cognitive enhancement
- life extension
- regeneration and improved immune system, health and healing
- enhancing senses
- strength, speed, dexterity.

Regeneration funded for $250 million through DOD Afirm.

Speed ,strength and dexterity and appearance enhancement can be always
on enhancement but will be optional and less impactful economically
and socially than cognitive enhancement and devices for work and
science productivity.

Brian --

The fact that people are more opposed to enhancements in general than they are to any particular enhancement has a corollary in the debate about life extension. There are many who express grave doubts about "life extension," but who have no problem whatsoever with a new treatment for cancer or Alzheimer's. And, in fact, most of these people would be hard pressed to find a cause of death or deterioration of well-being that they're really in favor of, or even indifferent to. Ask them how they feel about a new to deal with any of these in particular, and they'll be all for it.

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