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Impressive Stem-Cell Treatment, and Musing on Human Enhancement in Athletics - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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June 15th, 2011


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10:52 pm - Impressive Stem-Cell Treatment, and Musing on Human Enhancement in Athletics
Here's an interesting article about an athlete who has used experimental stem cell therapy to make a full and rapid recovery from an injury. So far, such medicine is only available in at least mildly shady clinics in the third world (this athlete had the procedure done in the Dominican Republic), but it looks like stem cell therapy is finally starting to pay off, and I'm expecting to see a lot more of it in the next decade. Definitely nifty and wonderful stuff.

Of course, this has set off a bit of a controversy about this athlete, and that got me reading about so-called "gene doping" (using gene therapy to enhance athletes). I saw quite a number of articles about how wrong, unfair, "unnatural" and generally bad it is. I vividly disagree. I think that drugs and treatments (and for that matter training methods) that harm athletes health should obviously be illegal, and while I think the answer is non-obvious, I can also see only permitting athletic performance that is not enhanced by temporary measures like various performance enhancing drugs. However, gene therapy of this sort makes permanent changes in people, and so I think it should definitely be allowed, although not just yet, since it's very far from clear that it's currently remotely safe. However, it's clear from reading about it that most objections have nothing to do with whether it's safe or not.

For me, the issue is both that modern training methods already shape, hone, and improve "natural" performance in way impossible 50 years ago, and also that if I want to see athletic performance (which admittedly, most of the time I don't), I want to see the best of what we can do, and if that means gene therapy, cyberlimbs, or other enhancements, such as this one. I want to see what humans can do or become, not what is "natural" (a word that I consider to be both meaningless and vastly overused), which also isn't what we see in any remotely competitive sport anymore anyway.
Current Mood: impressedimpressed

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[User Picture]
From:slothman
Date:June 16th, 2011 06:18 am (UTC)
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There are modern training methods, and then there are various stunts like banking your own blood so you can load up extra red cells for oxygen storage in a big event, and I would be annoyed at having to do that kind of thing if I were an athlete. I’d prefer to have “organic” and “enhanced” leagues, so people who just want to compete on their own genetic merits can do so as purists, and people who want to push the envelope can show off their regimen.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:June 16th, 2011 07:01 am (UTC)
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Dual leagues make sense. Also, the fact that blood banking is allowed and drugs aren't is truly insane.
[User Picture]
From:slothman
Date:June 16th, 2011 07:36 am (UTC)
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A lot of the drugs have serious side effects (e.g. steroids), and result in some nasty tradeoffs of performance now for problems later. I can see that people who do blood banking would be leery of competing with people who are taking steroids. At that point we could have leagues graded by hazard level— “organic”, “enhanced”, “experimental”...
[User Picture]
From:sara_super_id
Date:June 16th, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC)
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Sports are weird. Really they are just a form of entertainment, hobby and exercise. It would be cool to see cyberhuman sports, I think.

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