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Public service, ashwagandha and oxygen

Posted by nootrope , 13 January 2013 · 2,431 views

A bit of a public service announcement: Our interest in life extension here is mostly an individual thing or an interest in advancing the frontiers. Progress also needs to be made in making more widely available medical and nutritional advances to developing countries. For example, this charity came to my attention:

www.vitaminangels.org

I don't mean this to be a grim call to duty--after all the site came to my attention through a Facebook note from the beautiful girl in high school who all the guys had a crush on.

I'm always reminded that the advance of humanity depends on the advance of all of us. This guy was in the news recently:

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Srinivasa Ramanujan, Indian peasant boy who was such a math genius that even now his guesses are being turned into discoveries with fundamental applications.

These days we're used to thinking of progress as the inevitable result of historical forces. The singularity will result from Moore's Law, not through anything individual people do. It has a momentum of its own. Inventions begat inventions, and we are only the hosts of progress-memes, increasingly to be discarded as computers themselves begin to at least seem to innovate.

But individuals do matter... Economist Paul Krugman admits that his motivation for becoming a social scientist was Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilology, science fiction novels that posited a predictive science of how a society would develop. Yet in the novels, those predictions were derailed by a single person with mutant abilities.

With the problems presented by a world increasing from a population of 7 billion it's important to build on the abilities present in that huge population. Perhaps through nootropics we can augment our intelligence a bit, but those in advanced economies can also augment the lives of some of those 7 billion; like karma those benefits could redound to us.

Another unrelated thought: a publication last month indicates that ashwagandha can help ameliorate memory impairment from oxygen deprivation. I was wondering whether this was part of why it was so helpful for me. With a new diagnosis of sleep apnea, it could be that the ashwagandha was protecting my brain from the oxygen deprivation resulting from the 60 times an hour my breathing was interrupted during sleep.

Or perhaps not entirely unrelated: another important note of modesty is that not only do we have medical benefits to spread to the rest of the world, but also ancient traditions such as ashwagandha of ayurvedic medicine (which I suppose Ramanujan must have sampled) are of benefit.
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