Archive for February, 2008
Here’s our complete video storyboard. It gives you an idea of how the animations will work with the audio script in terms of pacing and sequence.
* there are a ton of different coloured screens in this video, but it’s just to see how they look, our final will have a much less extensive colour palette.
* also, in a couple of spots the animation doesn’t match up with the audio cause we’ve made some changes to our script.
Here’s some visualizations of how the animation will work with the script:
click to expand
***more to follow***
We’ve started thinking about what we want our final project to look like in terms of colours and so on…
The black and white type represents the contrasting opinions in the argument – white representing pro life extension, black representing the opposition.
We thought some striking background colours would enhance the liveliness of the debate.
Here’s a pretty-much-straightened-out recording of our audio script.
This idea focuses on simply the arguments for and against life extension. I imagine the graphics for this being typographic, similar to that Nick The Greek video, with a lot of visual puns.
Ms. Against: [Sigh...tut.] You’re crazy.
Ms. For : [Laugh.] What? No I’m not! Look, the notion of eternal life has captured the imagination of our species for generations. You’ve got Peter Pan, The Highlander, Vampires, they all live forever.
Ms. Against: Just because humanity is obsessed, doesn’t make it right! Just look at the whole cosmetic surgery phenomena, the obsession with looking younger. We plump, enhance, reduce, remove and stretch our bodies into unnatural proportions just so we can try to look 21 again. We don’t even know what harm all that stuff does to us!
Ms. For : Yeah, but that stuff is only superficial and most of those procedures are temporary. I’m talking about the inner-workings of our bodies – our cells molecules and organs.
Ms. Against: Well I just don’t think that doubling or tripling our lifespans will solve anything I mean, what about, like, war and poverty, aren’t those problems more important?
Ms. For : But I think it could solve some problems! An extended lifespan would give us a chance to recover from our mistakes and reduce health care costs by delaying or even preventing expensive diseases!
Ms. Against: That’s all well and good, but our earth can only support so many people. As cruel as it may sound, aging keeps the population down. How the heck would we control populations if everyone started living till they were 2, 3, 4 hundred years old!?
Ms. For : I dunno, we could… we could like mass emigrate into space [laughs] or restrict births like they do in China.
Ms. Against: Ok then “Ms. Ihaveananswerforeverything”, answer me this, isn’t 80 years of life enough?! I mean, when an elderly person dies, it’s sad, but it’s not as tragic as like, the death of a child because that elderly person has lived a good long life.
Ms. For : well yeah, of course but…
Ms. Against: [cuts her off] and anyway, one of the characteristics of mortality is the desire to make our limited days count.
Ms. For : Look, we live longer now than we did say… a century ago, but that doesn’t mean we take life any less seriously. And do you really go around thinking “I have 80 years to live so I’m going to make the most of today”? No. It’s not the knowledge that we will die at a certain time that motivates us, but the awareness that life is fragile and that we could die at any moment, in like an accident.
Ms. Against: If that’s really what motivated me through life, I’d be too afraid to leave my house!
Ms. For : [sigh] whatever, I think a longer life would invigorate people to do the things they’ve always wanted to do.
Ms. Against: hmm… I highly doubt that. If someone doesn’t do those things within a normal 70-80 year lifespan I don’t think giving them extra time on top of that would help them. In fact, I think that a longer life would mean more time for boredom to creep in, which could result in prolonged unhappiness or suicide.
Ms. For : You wanna talk unhappiness? How does becoming frail and dependent sound to you? Cause that’s what happens when you grow old! Research into aging isn’t just about creating an elixir of youth, it could also help us to be healthier in our old age. We already save so many lives and isn’t saving a life and prolonging it the same thing?
Ms. Against: Ha! Not when you’re talking about a couple hundred years it isn’t!!!
Ms. For : [laughs] So what are you going to get me for my 200th birthday?
Ms. Against: [sigh] You’re crazy…
The story is told through the eyes of two labs rats and their conversation and correspondence with each other.
they are owned by a team of scientists trying to find a cure for aging.
one scientist believes in traditional methods of anti aging while the other believes in the real methods of anti aging. the lab rats argue over
which of the scientists they believe is correct. one day the scientists realize they will never reach an agreement so they decided to part ways and see which of them can conquer aging first on their own. one rat goes with the first scientist- he is creamed, injected, lifted and sculpted- he writes a whole letter to the other lab rat saying how good he looks and how much younger he feels. the second lab rat doesn’t have much happen to him just a few blood tests and admits he is a bit skeptical of his owners methods to the other rat. This goes on and on until one day cosmetic r
at starts sagging and the second rat by way of synthetic biology is made stronger and stronger. Eventually cosmetic rat writes synthetic rat a letter from his death bed admitting looks aren’t everything and your scientists was right all along to look at the cellular level.
the rats can even be named synth and cosmo
S: Did you hear what they want to do to us now?
C: Yea! They want to make us live forever! I wonder how they will do it?
S: Those scientists, such overactive imaginations. Who do they think I am Peter Pan?
C: Well I’m not complaining, living longer means more time to eat cheese!
S: Shhhh quiet you! I hear Dr. McDougall and Dr. Herrmann coming! We don’t want them to know we can talk, that will only mean more experiments for us and personally I am happy just running around in the maze all day.
Dr. M: I’m not sure about these ideas of yours, I mean if we make them live forever we will soon have a million rats. The mazes will be overcrowded and soon we’ll have to release them into the sewers.
Dr. H: Yes, but at the end of the day its a choice between a high birth rate or a low death rate and we may as well focus on those of us who are already living.
Dr. M: But wont it get boring after a while? Extended boredom could mean prolonged unhappiness and maybe even higher instances of suicide.
Dr. H: Well there’s your population control then. Just joking! Longer life means living without regret, what’s boring about that?!
Dr. M: I say we just focus on improving the quality of human life.
Dr. H: Well, I am certainly not against that, but why not try to make it longer as well?
S: All this ethical mumbo jumbo, nothing ever gets done in here!
C: I want to live longer already! Or at least look better. I mean who cares if I don’t live forever as long as I have a long life with a lustrous coat.
S: You are always so quick to believe everything you hear. Even if they do figure out how to do all this stuff it wont be for years.
Click- screen goes dark as one of the scientists turns the light off- key turned in lock
C: Those scientists, always turning the lights off on us before we are ready for bed.
S: Goodnight Cosmo
C: Goodnight Synth
The Next Day the two scientists walk in arguing:
Dr. H: I’m telling you, as scientists we have the moral duty to extend human life as far as it will go!
Dr. M: And I am telling you that extending our life spans will not solve any of our current social problems. It may even make them worse! Evil dictators could live forever, competition for jobs would be fierce and without the constant infusion of new and youthful talent everything will grind to a halt!
Dr. H: Fine! if that is how you feel I will take my rat and begin the search for immortality on my own. (reaches into cage and grabs synth) You can have fun You can have fun pumping your rat full of botox and steroids and “improving” its quality of life.
S: Goodbye cosmo! Keep in touch! Don’t forget to write and let me know how things go…
C: Goodbye Synth, the maze wont be the same without you, I hope I can find my way out on my own.
Life in here in the new lab isn’t bad, it’s just a little boring. Dr. Herrmann pretty much ignores me, she is always busy playing with her test tubes and beakers. Sometimes she stops to draw a little blood. I don’t really mind because so far she has not done anything to hurt me, plus I get plenty of exercise and good healthy food. Tomorrow she wants to count my cells to see how much cell loss I am experiencing. What’s a cell? Is that like a cage? How is that going to make me live longer? I still find this hard to believe!
Write back soon. Love,
I was so excited to read your letter! I miss you so much. Fortunatly Dr. McDougall doesn’t leave much time for me to be bored. I have a rigourous schedule of injections, pills and beauty routines. You should see me! I am fit as a fiddle and pretty than ever. My muscles are bulging out of my fur. Dr. M wasn’t kidding when she said I would have an improved quality of life! This botox stuff is amazing and I don’t know why no one has ever tried to give me steroids before. Dr. M tells me it is still important to eat right and exercise, but I haven’t touched my wheel in weeks and I feel great and look better than ever. Enclosed find my new head shot (I’m looking for an agent!) I miss you and won’t forget you when I am famous. I hope that your cells are all still here.
Synth pulls out the picture and laughs
MIDDLE PART STILL NEEDS TO BE FIGURED OUT
Four years later…
Final scene is synth standing over a gravestone- looking young as always and on the gravestone it says ” 2008-2010 here lies cosmo, he may have a short life, but was good looking till the end. He will be missed”
LIFE EXTENSION OUR OBSESSION
1. As human beings we are obsessive creatures and there is one goal so old and so elusive, it has captured our attention for centuries. IMMORTALITY. In popular culture, we can see numerous examples of this desire to look and feel young forever with such characters as Peter Pan, Vampires, The Highlander and movies concerning quests for the Holy Grail or the Fountain of Youth.
2. In the west this obsession has manifested itself in an abundance of products, surgeries and pills that promise a more youthful outward appearance. So we inject, enhance, dye, pop (pills), r r remove, implant, lift, tuck and plump our poor bodies in the hope that we will retain the aesthetic vigor of our youth. In 2003 Ontarians alone spent 180 million dollars on cosmetic surgery and that was 5 years ago!
3. But these treatments are just that – cosmetic – they don’t really deal with our vital inner workings, and thus do nothing to prolong our lives. In fact a lot of these procedures are probably detrimental to our health. BUT NEVER FEAR! Recent advancements in the anti-aging field have scientists saying that we are finally close to achieving lifetimes that are at least several decades longer.
4. Due to increased understanding of how aging affects our bodies at a cellular and molecular level, we now know that metabolism plays a key role in the aging process. Metabolism ongoingly causes “damage” and that “damage” eventually results in death. A genetic-engineering approach to anti-aging would be to periodically repair damage so that it doesn’t reach the point that causes death.
5. We also now know that there are only 7 areas of “damage” to be fixed:
* cell loss/atrophy
* death resistant cells
* nuclear mutations
* mtDNA mutations
* protein cross-links
* junk inside cells
* junk outside cells
Several of these damages, we already know how to fix and it is predicted that we will know how to fix all of these things in mice within the next 10 years.
- But where to begin? It is not simply a matter of giving everyone Advil and Band-aides, we need to make changes at the cellular level. Synthetic biology takes the basic techniques behind genetic engineering and builds on them by employing automated construction, standards and abstraction. In other words instead of the long complicated processes used by genetic engineers, new processes that are faster, cheaper and simpler begin to emerge. These methods have already allowed scientists to create a microbe’s genome from raw chemical components. The next step for these scientists is to actually place this DNA in a cell and see if they can create an actual synthetic life form. While that may not seem like much at this time, think of the future implications. Once scientists can create synthetic cells they have a way to combat all 7 areas of damage listed above.
-Eventually, synthetic biologists may be able to do more than just create cells. They may be able to create new organs and new body parts. This would be simpler than replacing cells and probably be simpler than traditional organ transplants and there would be no need to wait for donors plus the organs could be created to have the same DNA squence as the patient eliminating the problem of the organ being rejected. What would it mean for our lifestyle if body parts suddenly became replaceable? No more exercise, and dieting because hey I could just get a new heart. Alcohol poisoning is ok, because my liver is replaceable too.
-We don’t have to worry about anything this radical just yet. For now they haven’t even created a synthetic cell, but they working on other ways to extend the life of a mouse.
6. According to scientists, the key for getting to the first moderate life extension is to acquire the ability to bestow 2 extra healthy years on mice that are already 2 years old (on mice that normally only live until they’re 3)
7. Of course the notion of biologically extending our lives is highly controversial and hotly debated. Advocates, such as Cambridge researcher Aubrey de Gray, and objectors voicing astute arguments for and against the issue.
8. However, despite strong opposition, it appears as though he arguments for living longer outnumber and outweigh those against it.
9. There are still important questions to think about in this debate…
* Will everyone have en equal chance at an extended life?
* If people live longer but are miserable for decades will views on suicide and euthanasia change?
* In an immortal society, how would you allow for new generations?
* It is one thing to ask should we make people immortal but it is quite another to ask whether we should make people immune to heart disease, cancer, dementia etc. (which would inevitable increase our life spans)
* What is aging? A disease to be cured or a natural part of life? If it is natural, is it necessarily good for us?
* Does the fact that we’re going to die really make us think more seriously about life?
10. Aubrey de Grey, computer scientist, biogerontologist, researcher and strong advocate for life extension, says that these scientific breakthroughs will happen, most likely in an incremental fashion increasing our lives by 50, then 100, then maybe even 1,000 years.
” if we get to work now, humans alive today could live to be 1,000″ de Grey proposes that the first human beings who will live to 1,000 years old have already been born.
11. But until these breakthroughs happen, here are some current life extension tips:
* Eat Less: consumption of calories has been scientifically proven to increase life expectancy.
* Love More: according to research, happy couples tend to live longer than single individuals.
12. Though, don’t forget to ask yourself: “What will I wish for on my 200th birthday?”
Life Extension Obsession:
creative brief to follow.
“Everybody’s Coming to Get Me…”
A video depicting the negative effects of smoking weed.
Most people are unaware of many of weed’s negative side effects and dismiss it as nothing more than a gateway drug. This video is aimed at teens and 20 somethings (those most likely to be cannabis users) to teach them about some of the negative effects of weed, most specifically its link to paranoia and mental illness.
The video will start off as some tripped out psychedelic thing and slowly morph into a nightmarish world. Both the sounds and visuals will undergo this transformation, meanwhile auditory information will be pumped in over the music with key words worked into the graphics.
This piece will be inspired largely by its soundtrack which will consist of psychedelic music (or reggae) and heavy metal.
“Can you Smell the Fear?”
Being scared is a lot of things, but it isn’t rational. Fear is more than just about psychology, it can be chemical and there are even fear inducing pheromones. This project will explore the various different aspects of fear and ways to cause it.
While the target audience for this piece will be fairly broad, the video may be a little freaky for young kids and a little to maybe a little to freaky for so adults as well. A perfect video for conspiracy theorists.
The video would explore various aspects of the psychology and physiology of fear including the Peru incident and psychological torture.
Visually this video would be something like a cheesy 80′s music video scary, but only because it is so weird. Think Bonnie Tyler and Total Eclipse of the Heart, with graphic elements punctuating the choir scenes and text running through the hall with Bonnie.
Life Extension: Our Obsession
To live forever while preserving health and retaining the appearance and energy of youth is one of humanities oldest and most elusive goals. Most prevalent in developed nations are practices, surgeries and treatments that promise to give people a younger (though sometimes fake) outward look: Botox, surgical enhancements, liquids, lotions, pills, spa treatments, removing stuff, putting stuff back in, hair dye, hair removal, hair implants, wrinkle reduction and so on. in 2003, Ontarians alone spent 180 million dollars on cosmetic surgery – nearly half of what was spent across the entire country. And that was five years ago.
But these are simply superficial treatments that temporarily fight the outward signs of aging, they don’t really deal with our the inner working of our bodies, and thus do nothing to prolong our lives. In fact they may even be detrimental to our health. However, due to new research into aging and a growing understanding of how aging affects our bodies at the cellular and molecular levels, scientists now say we could finally be close to achieving lifetimes that are at least several decades longer.
DO WE WANT TO LIVE TWICE AS LONG?
Surprisingly, from my research, it appears as though the arguments for living longer out number the arguments against it:
A doubled lifespan would give us a chance to recover from our mistakes, lead us toward longer term thinking and reduce healthcare costs by delaying or even preventing the onset of expensive diseases.
With more skilled workers remaining in the workforce longer, economic productivity would go up and people could more easily switch careers.
There are already injustices in the current world. For example the average life expectancy in the U.S is 78 years, but only 34 years in Botswana due to HIV and AIDS and the lack of finances for proper treatment. Developed nations also have access to medicines and life-saving procedures such as organ transplants that are beyond the financial reach of the poor.
New technologies often start off expensive but become cheaper and more widely accessible with time.
Denying life-reatments to one group of people will not save another.
We’ll use the planet more efficiently.
We’ll mass emigrate into space.
We’ll restrict births, such as the laws in China.
It will be the choice between a low birth rate or a high death rate.
We live longer now than we did a century ago, but that doesn’t mean we take life any less seriously or less creatively.
It is not the knowledge that we will die at a certain age that spurs us to make the most of our lives, but the awareness that we can die at any moment. (accidents, disease)
Longer life may invigorate people to do the things they’ve always wanted to do.
Between 1950 and 2001, infant mortality in the United States dropped from nearly 30 deaths for every 1,000 live births to just 7. This was responsible for a spectacular rise in life expectancy. By lowering infant mortality, creating effective vaccines and so on, science, over the past 100 years, has already increased the average person’s life by nearly three decades.
Becoming frail and dependent is not fun.
Who are we to impose values on future generations? The future of humanity should be free to have that choice, we shouldn’t make that decision for them.
Current methods for postponing aging today such as Gerontology and Geriatrics are not controversialso why should this method be treated differently?
Saving a life and delaying it are the same thing.
Scientists have a moral duty to extend the human life span as far as it will go.
The future’s elderly will be fitter. Research into aging could also help us to be healthier in our old age, not just live longer.
Doubling life spans won’t solve any of our current social problems: war, poverty etc.
Competition for jobs would become more fierce and it would be tougher for young people to move into the workforce.Without a constant infusion of youthful talent and ideas, institutions and politics could stagnate. Possibly forming a world that was focused too narrowly on maintaining life and not on building a good life.
Evil dictators could rule forever.
Life extension technology will likely be expensive at first so only a small number of wealthy individuals will be able to afford it.
The death of an elderly person is not as tragic as the death of a child: an elderly person has lived a good long life.
Earth can support only so many people. Aging keeps down the population and is ecologically sound.
Generations would have to be born further apart to avoid overcrowding.
Some of the virtues of being mortal are our interest and engagement with life, making our days count and appreciating all that life brings, our sense of accomplishment, commitment and the meaningfulness of time and our passage through it.
Longer life means more time for boredom to creep in. Extended boredom could result in prolonged unhappiness or higher instances of suicide.
WHAT WILL CHANGE?
Notions of marriage, family and work will change in fundamentals ways, as will attitudes towards the young and old.
There may be a shift in emphasis from marriage as a lifelong union to marriage as a long term commitment resulting in multiple brief marriages becoming common. (but aren’t they already?!)
Eight or even 10 generations might be alive simultaneously.
Siblings could be born 40 or 50 years apart changing the way siblings or parents and their children interact with each other.
Living longer may mean more time spent working, careers will become longer and the retirement age will be pushed back.
IMPORTANT ISSUES TO CONSIDER
Will everyone have en equal chance at an extended life?
If people live longer but are miserable for decades will views on suicide and euthanasia change?
In an immortal society, how would you allow for new generations?
It is one thing to ask should we make people immortal but it is quite another to ask whether we should make people immune to heart disease, cancer, dementia etc. (which would inevitable increase our life spans)
What is aging? A disease to be cured ora natural part of life? If it is natural, is it necessarily good for us?
Does the fact that we’re going to die really make us think more seriously about life?
WHAT ARE THESE NEW SCIENTIFIC ADVANCEMENTS?
The average life expectancy for Americans is currently 78 years old.
A repeated experiment with rodents has shown that if they are fed 40% fewer calories they live about 40% longer. So if these effects can be replicated in humans, the average person could live to be 112 years and our maximum life span could be extended to 140 years.
We know that metabolism plays a key role in aging, but we have yet to fully understand it.
Metabolism ongoingly causes “damage”. And that damage only eventually cases pathology (death). An genetic engineering approach to anti-aging would periodically repair the”damage” so that it doesn’t reach the threshold that causes pathology.
We know that there are only 7 areas of “damage” that need to be fixed.
1. cell loss/atrophy
2. Death resistant cells
3. Nuclear mutations
4. Protein crosslinks
5. Junk inside cells
6. Junk outside cells
7. mt DNA mutations
We already know how to fix some of these things and it is predicted that we will know how to fix all of these things in mice within the next 10 years.
Fundamental breakthroughs happen in an incremental process. The therapies will improve.
The key for getting to the first moderate life extension is that we acquire the ability to confer 2 extra healthy years on mice that are already 2 years old (on mice that normally live until they are 3).
TIPS TO LIVE LONGER
Get your genetics tinkered with.
Find a Mate: According to research happy couples tend to live longer than single individuals.
Wired: How To Live Forever : The Wired article that first inspired this project.
Abolishing Aging : A basic breakdown of why we age, the biological processes involved and why it may not be impossible for us to combat and fix the damage that those process do to our bodies, thus preventing aging and extending life.
TED Talks: Aubrey de Grey : A fascinating TED talk from one of the main supporters of extending life that outlines the benefits of living longer.
The Social Burden of Longer Lives : A Live Science article exploring the potential social burdens that would be imposed on society if we were successful in significantly extending our lives, such as notions of marriage, family relationships, and the workplace.
The Ethical Dilemmas of Immortality : A Live Science article exploring the ethical questions society would face if this technology ever came on the market – who would have access to life extension (only the rich?), how would we control populations and make room for new generations? and so on.
Do You Want To Live Forever? : An in-depth look at the theories and arguments of Aubrey De Grey.
Top Ten Immortals : Exploring our fascination with immortality as is manifests itself in popular culture.
The Psychological Strain of Living Forever : Pondering the psychological stresses that eliminating natural death would cause us including such things are boredom. It asks the important question: “is aging a disease to be cured or a natural part of life?”
Progress into Extending Human Life : Briefly explains the recent developments into extending life and also offers some tips on what we can’t do right now to help extend our lives and live a healthier existence.