In the midst of an expanding vortex of ideas at last weekend’s Humanity Plus conference I retreated to a quiet corner for a couple of minutes to let my mind catch its breath. I found myself sitting across from a 19 year old geek (in the endearing sense of the word) whose body looked like it had led a sedentary life under fluorescent lights. After a day and a half of fascinating lectures on subjects ranging from cutting edge AI to nanotech and living forever, I wondered what peaked the interest of this fellow human from an emerging generation. Expecting another comment about the implications of being able to instantly modify mouse behavior by shining colored beams of light directly into its brain (which is extremely cool), I took pause with his reply. “Myostatin inhibitors” Myostatin is a protein that helps to break down muscles to ensure they don’t become too large. Myostatin inhibitors dumb down its activity allowing muscles to become larger. The pharmaceutical company, Wyeth, has developed and antibody that performs this function but is not yet on the market.
I asked this kid why he felt he needed that. His reply, “So I can have bigger muscles.” Me- “But, you can already to that without myostatin inhibitors.” He- “Yes, but then I would have to work at it.” We continued our conversation as I made a mental note to never hire this person.
As we grow older the gratification that one experiences from taking care of one’s body is indescribable. It must be experienced. I have a hard time believing that the biotech or the cogtech world could ever simulate the mental fortitude or awareness that emerges from physical activity. Gently pushing the body beyond its comfort zone and learning to manage it with breath is to commune with all aspects of existence.
As we face our own physical limitations, our drive and fortitude to expand beyond those limitations grows. This resonates through every aspect of our lives. The superficial gains of exercise, such as reduced risk of disease, increased longevity and youthful bodies, pale in comparison to the depth of character that emerges from it. What precious traits of humanity will be unknowingly sacrificed as we evolve our world to effortlessly achieve more and more of what we consider an ideal?by