My encylopedia (several thousand pages long if printed) on the evolution of technology, and the books and people who drove that development:
|Introduction: Overview and Summary
|Prehistory: Ancient Literary Precursors
|Cosmic History:14 Billion BC to 3000 BC
|6th Millennium BC: When the Goddess Ruled
|5th Millennium BC: Mesopotamia, Egypt
|4th Millennium BC: Iceman of the Alps, Old Kingdom Egypt
|3rd Millennium BC: Gilgamesh and Cheops
|2nd Millennium BC: Abraham to David
|1st Millennium BC: Homer, Buddha, Confucius, Euclid
|1st Century: Jesus, Cymbeline, Caligula, Pliny
|2nd Century: Hero, Ptolemy, Nichomachus
|3rd Century: 3 Kingdoms China, Legendary Japan
|4th Century: Constantine, Hypatia, Ausonius
|5th Century: Rome in Crisis, Dark Ages start
|6th Century: Boethius, Taliesin, Mohammed
|7th Century: Bede, Brahmagupta, Isidorus
|8th Century: Beowulf, Charlemagne, 1001 Arabian Nights
|9th Century: Gunpowder and the first printed book
|10th Century: Arabs, Byzantium, China
|11th Century: Khayyam, Gerbert, Alhazen
|12th Century: Age of Translations
|13th Century: Crusades, Kublai Khan, Universities
|14th Century: Dante, Marco Polo, and Clocks
|15th Century: Dawn of Scientific Revolution
|16th Century: Ariosto and Cyrano on the Moon
|17th Century: Literary Dawn
|18th Century: Literary Expansion
|19th Century: Victorian Explosion
|1890-1910: Into Our Century
|1910-1920: The Silver Age
|1920-1930: The Golden Age
|1930-1940: The Aluminum Age
|1940-1950: The Plutonium Age
|1950-1960: The Threshold of Space
|1960-1970: The New Wave
|1970-1980: The Seventies
|1980-1990: The Eighties
|1990-2000: End of Millennium
|2000-2010: PRESENT DECADE
|2010-2020: Next Decade
|Cosmic Future: Until Infinity
Thought provoking lines from”The Singularity is Near” by Ray Kurzweil: The first half of the twenty-first century will be characterized by three overlapping revolutions – in Genetics, Nanotechnology, and Robotics. These will usher in the beginning of Singularity. We are in the early stages of the “G” revolution today…The “N” revolution will enable us to redesign and rebuild – molecule by molecule – our bodies and brains and the world with which we interact, going far beyond the limitations of biology. The most powerful impending revolution is “R”: human-level robots with their intelligence derived from our own but redesigned to far exceed human capabilities. Ray Kurzweil adds: Nanotechnology will facilitate capturing renewable energy sources such as sunlight. We could meet all of our projected energy needs of thirty trillion watts in 2030 with solar power if we captured only 0.03 percent (three ten-thousandths) of the sun’s energy as it hit the Earth. This will be feasible with extremely inexpensive, lightweight, and efficient nanoengineered solar panels together with nano-fuel cells to store and distribute the captured energy…
Nanotechnology promises the tool to rebuild the physical world – our bodies and brains included – molecular fragment by molecular fragment, potentially atom by atom…
Of the three primary revolutions underlying the Singularity (G,N, and R), the most profound is R, which refers to the creation of nonbiological intelligence that exceeds that of enhanced humans. A more intelligent process will inherently outcompete one that is less intelligent, making intelligence the most powerful force in the universe.
While the R in GNR stands for robotics, the real issue involved here is strong AI (artificial intelligence that exceeds human intelligence). The standard reason for emphasizing robotics in this formulation is that intelligence needs an embodiment, a physical presence, to affect the world…
I read some of the books by Damien Francis Broderick including “The Spike” (where he investigate the technological Singularity in detail) and his science fiction novel “The Judas Mandala” (where he referred the term “virtual reality,”). If you want to know what the future has in store for the human race, Broderick’s ‘The Spike’ is the book to start with… when the curves of research and development in artificial intelligence, molecular biology, and robotics all converge… At the point of singularity referred to as The Spike, the cumulative changes on all fronts will affect the existence of humanity as a species and cause a leap of evolution into a new state of being.’
“Emperor’s New Mind” by Roger Penrose is another great book in which he deals with ‘AI’ in one chapter.
Best of luck for ‘India Future Society’!
~ Raghavan Nambiar
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Very good article. I am a former Mormon and now a transhumanist. I was not aware of the Mormon Transhumanist Association. Had it been around 15 years ago before I left the church, I would have surely been a supporter. However, I came to a point in my life where I had to choose to believe in the Evolution of Man or Creationism as taught by the Mormon church. For many years, I believed in both in my own special mixture of doctrine and science, but I came to the fork in the road where I could no longer keep one foot firmly planted in each road. I had to choose and science won out. But having been a devout Mormon and a devout scientist/engineer, I can definitely see how Mormons would embrace transhumanism. Their doctrine, more than most, correlates with the agenda/vision of transhumanism. However, evidence for the Evolution of Man is being uncovered at an ever increasing rate that many of my fellow Mormon friends are finding themselves at the same fork in the road I was at. It will be hard for them as it was for me.
We cannot ignore the “elephant in the room” when it comes to transhumanism and becoming gods. As we learn to dominate matter, energy, and the forces of nature, ie. progress in godly powers, we must not think we are the first in the universe (or multiverse) to have achieved this. The universe is a big place and the time since the Big Bang is plenty long enough for other forms of intelligence out there to have surpassed us long long ago. As a result, asking the question, “Is there a God?” turns into a statistics question. Yes, since we can become gods, there is a finite probability that a god already exists. Then the final question unveils itself…, does that god if he exists, have anything to do with us here on earth? So far, I do not see evidence of that, but its possibility cannot be dismissed.
So as scientists, as transhumanists, let’s not be so quick to dismiss god entirely. Doing so would be as arrogant as those who claim he does exist without scientific proof.
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So, explain what you think happens if you duplicate *both* hemispheres from your brain, separate each and therefore have a “transfer” of both the left and the right brain as *two* separate (artificial) brains. Which is a simple logical extension of this line of argument. You could either do this concurrently, i.e. whilst the original, organic, brain exists or at a time subsequent to the death of the biological material.
Also, study Rupert Sheldrake http://www.sheldrake.org
any form of destructive uploading or radical cyberization will never happen anyway- not because they cannot be done- they can- and not because they might generate a copy instead of preserving the original- identity is memory is the soul- so any copies are originals- the reason why this philosophical debate will never be tested is because any such procedure would be a medical procedure- and all medical procedures down to toenail removal are regulated by governments- governments that have unwaveringly prohibited elective augmentation- this means that becoming an immortal human cyborg will have to be DIY- and the only non-surgical way to do that is through personal fabrication of nanodrugs and food supplements that allow an individual to replace/augment their brains and bodies one cell at a time by hijacking metabolism with biomemetic nanotechnology-
What would prevent a transhumanist group with investors from doing these types of experimental procedures in, say, the Bahamas, or any nearby state without relevantly explicit laws? If the volunteer would otherwise die in the short-term and is apprised of the risks, it seems intuitively ethical to me, and conservatively-speaking at least marginally better than assisted suicide.
Another way of doing so could be to apply the “Von Neumann probes” idea to the brain with nanotechnologies in order to replace neurons with a better substrate gradually while still being conscious.
It shouldn’t be any different to us than any change your brain goes through every day if it can be done (hopefully).
“Therefore, one needs to ask in how far will Western society be able to embrace the idea that humankind has the potential to become perfect and that there may not exist an intrinsic antagonism between humans and machines?” There will be some of us that abhor the union of man and machine, and others (like myself) that embrace it. I predict the first step will be a computer chip that monitors blood chemistry and vitals, routes the information through our cell phone, to a monitoring company – a paid subscription to be watched 24/7 and always having a known location, and the EMTs called for a medical emergency. Will “our society” embrace such a violation of our privacy (that we must pay for)? We’ll see by the end of the decade – I bet the answer will be YES.
[…] UPDATE: My following article below was just re-published by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) and India Future Society. […]
Logvity with Pshycic disorder is waste. Where a healthy mind increases logvity by itself.
[…] UPDATE: My article below was just re-published by India Future Society. […]
Great post! Always good to see more people being passionate about overcoming our limits. I share your strong dislike for aging and involuntary death, and I also hope the the singularity will enable us to spread out into the universe, colonizing x-ions of planets and making much more efficient use of them with much more ease than today. By we I mean beings that by in large have all the capacities for different feelings and experiences that purely biological humans have today, but also many more of greater strength. I believe it to be a moral imperative to spread our into the universe, converting meaningless rocks and gasses into beings with meaning, and to continue evolving in a positive direction as opposed to defining ourselves by our lacks and limitations.
Learn all you can, and pull all the strings you can, to get in on the radical extension of healthy lifespan likely in the next few decades. See Aubrey de Grey’s book Ending Aging. Log on to maxlife.org. Would you rather be one of the last to die early, or one of the first to live long?
If you get bored with long life, just stop showing up for your quadrennial aging reversals, and in time dear old Mother Nature will solve the problem for you – permanently. Better to develop new interests.
Vital research is stifled because the FDA does not regard aging as a disease. But many of us who suffer from it do so regard it. Something that first uglifies (at least in this culture), then debilitates, then immiserates, and finally, kills everyone not already dead from other causes, is surely a disease.
An excellent contribution Christine – thank you for this! Aging is definitely a disease… one that slowly – or quickly for some – sucks the life force out of us all. The fact that the majority seem so accepting of death has always baffled me. Brian Wowk once attributed this to the Stockholm syndrome….
Thank you for your intelligent and heartfelt commentary.
I must tell you, first of all, that I agree largely with what you say here.
I have been a follower of cryonics since its first days in Michigan when I was a young professor of psychology at the prestigious Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. With my then wife, Mary, also supportive, I attended most of the very early meetings of the Cryonics Society of Michigan (in 1966-67), led by Robert Ettinger, which later became the Cryonics Institute. As you can guess, nearly 50 years on, I am now an old man, having been in and out of the movement and back again in recent years. I have followed your career of involvement with admiration in recent times, especially your management of what is probably the most credible cryopreservation case ever done, in Toronto, my beloved home town, as it happens. Even though I have now, probably finally, lost the belief that anyone from my time will ever be revived to experience a later time, you are the only surviving possibility that that might happen, because of you proven competence, caring nature, and perseverance in the face of doubt and even hostility from many quarters.
Of this I must warn you, however, and take serious note!!!
If YOU (or someone of your quality and character) does not step in to assume the leadership of CI, it will die the Chatsworth death, probably as soon as the aging Andy Zawacki is disabled, or loses interest, or dies (we all do, you know, at least up to now). That is the ugly truth. It does me little comfort that the presumptive saviours of this movement have come, in succession, from my home town or thereabouts. I could have, perhaps, as a third, filled this role a generation ago, but I was elsewhere, pursuing another dream unfulfilled, Sorry for that.
Here are some detailed comments:
“I have always believed that cryonics will never catch on, until the day that we successfully restore a person to health.” No, this is wrong. The entire logic of cryonics is that if we can preserve with our primitive present day technology of freezing, you future people with your superior technology will find a way to undo the damage we have done or that we have been left with in our wretched old near-dead bodies
“That day will change the world as we know it. Until then, I don’t think this is a battle we are going to win. We must keep our sights on other goals, and survive until that day comes.”
No. Actually, if we have to wait until that day, then cryonics will be mostly irrelevant. If people can be kept alive, nobody will have any reason to be frozen in the first place, except in those very rare cases where freezing over a relatively short time will keep the body ready for the soon-to-be-discovered cure.
“By eliminating poverty, warfare and illiteracy, we will be making improvements to the sustainability of this world and eliminate the need to worry about overpopulation. Let’s not blame the desire to live longer on the problems we have already created.” This is a great point! Similar arguments are made in my book, “Acceleration,” which should be a kind of bible for anyone who believes in the ultimate inevitability of human progress, as anyone who logically believes in cryonics must.
“next century” way too optimistic. The progress in cryobiology since Ettinger’s book, 50 years ago, has been negligible. This is a fact we must face. Our optimistic predictions about what the future may bring may be on target in a general sense, but the empirical record suggests that specifics are essentailly unpredictable and much much longer than we expected. I think that 100 years is too optimistic for acceptance of a believable cryonics regime (probably privately supported by a handful of very rich people). Significant life extension (into the 120-150 lifetime frame) is going to come through normal medicine and medical research within 50 or 60 years.
“we are running a terrible risk of being decimated by a single extinction level event.” These astronomic events are exceedingly rare in human time scale terms. The most recent extinction event was many millions of years ago and it didn’t extinguish mammals. This is not something humanity should worry about in the near future. In the far future, we will have the technology to divert any such threat through the judicious employment of our own technologies (think rockets and atomic-powered lasers, etc.).
“It needs a bold revitalization that I think is very possible if we want it badly enough.” This is correct, but who? How? The cryonics movement has stagnated. There is no sustaining growth.There is a hopeless division between the two remaining organizations, and one of them, ALCOR, has a terribly disruptive history, a suspicious governing structure, and self-defeating suspicion-generating policies (e.g. encouraging “neuro” suspensions)
“Part of the responsibility for solving this concern also lies in the hands of the patient. If it is so important to be near your loved ones that you would rather die than return to a world without them, then do everything you can to convince them to sign up as well. I did this. It took me almost two decades, but I managed to get my family to agree to come with me.”
Congratulations for this, a great achievement. I have tried this, no luck.My current and remaining loved one will cooperate with my wishes, that’s all.She adamantly refuses to be frozen.
“What Happens To My Soul?”
I don’t think, even as a small child, I thought the idea of god made any sense at all. There is no god, and if you think there is, you have no comprehension of modern astronomy.
“Ridiculing my neighbour because he or she believes in a religion isn’t going to make me look smarter” Well, it makes you look that way to me.
Thank you for your kind words. I would like to address some of what you said here. I realize you started this post unintentionally, and meant to send it privately, but I will try to respond to some of this here, as I feel it is an invaluable discussion that is long overdue.
You speak of the Toronto case as being very credible. I would like to know specifically what makes it a credible account, and what you specifically liked about it. I would like to carry those aspects and qualities forward to future cryopreservations and build on our success.
Your first point: “No, this is wrong. The entire logic of cryonics is that if we can preserve with our primitive present day technology of freezing, you future people with your superior technology will find a way to undo the damage we have done or that we have been left with in our wretched old near-dead bodies
“That day will change the world as we know it. Until then, I don’t think this is a battle we are going to win. We must keep our sights on other goals, and survive until that day comes.”
No. Actually, if we have to wait until that day, then cryonics will be mostly irrelevant. If people can be kept alive, nobody will have any reason to be frozen in the first place, except in those very rare cases where freezing over a relatively short time will keep the body ready for the soon-to-be-discovered cure.”
What I meant by this is that cryonics will not become relevant to everyone, until the first animal or human is successfully revived. I don’t mean that the cryonics process is irrelevant. If I thought it was, I wouldn’t be betting my life, and the lives of my family on it. I don’t think that people in general care to take the time to imagine that this process may work. They will need to be shown proof that it works, and only then will they even consider it something they will undertake. It will, in my view, remain unpopular until then, and I think we should prepare for that fact and not hope in vain that it will somehow catch on in the meantime. There may still exist forms of cryopreservation once the process becomes reversible, because all forms of death, illness and disability may not be overcome at once. People will still have accidents and will suffer diseases of which a cure may not be imminently at hand. It just may be called something else- reversible hypothermic suspended animation, or some other term. That is semantic and not something I would worry about now.
As to the timeframe of when cryonics may be successfully reversed, I really can’t say. I choose to be an optimist and hope that technology will advance more quickly than I imagine, but I have no way to scientifically back up that statement.
When I spoke of extinction level events, I should have clarified that I didn’t mean just the astronomical kind. I was also thinking about environmental or man made disasters that could render us quite literally extinct or otherwise incapacitated. We have as many means to destroy ourselves as we do to better our condition. My fundamental message here is about keeping one’s eggs all in one basket.
You speak with pessimism about the current state of affairs of the cryonics industry- both of Alcor and CI. I am sure that is well earned pessimism, and I am not here to tell you that you are wrong. What I do see though, is an increasing interest from other avenues regarding cryonics that should not be ignored. Bill Maris of Google recently announced that he wants to invest a billion dollars in start ups that focus on radical life extension, and he did publicly mention cryonics as a possibility. Other billionaires have also recently demonstrated interest in radical life extension, such as Dmitry Itskoff, and the leaders of Google, Facebook and the ilk.
Our task is to not sit back like helpless consumers and hope that these moguls choose us to invest in. We need to play an active role in cultivating and maintaining interest in cryonics. All of us. We all have limitations to work with- age, disease, families, jobs and the like. Its not good enough for us to say that we don’t have the time, inclination or energy to promote cryonics or think about how to enable it to thrive. We are all responsible for it’s outcome. This is a book with an unwritten conclusion, and everything we do or neglect to do will impact the final chapter. I challenge you, myself, and everyone reading this to consider this one thing. “What can I do right now to make a positive impact on the world; to bring radical life extension through cryonics or other means one step closer to fruition?” If all of us put as much effort into this problem as we do to more mundane matters, I am very optimistic that things would turn around.
I am very grateful that all of you took the time to respond to this essay. Please continue to do so as we need to have this conversation desperately.
BTW, Aubrey deGrey is a crackpot. Nothing of what he says will ever happen in any of our lifetimes including his. He is profiteering on the gullible hopes of innocent people and laughing all the way to the bank. He undermines cryonics by making people believe that cash get longevity (immortality) by taking some stupid concoction of vitamins and chemicals.
Ronhave: You should apologize to Aubrey. He does NOT recommend “some stupid concoction of vitamins and chemicals”. You must be thinking of someone else. He does encourage fundamental research into aging and effective means to reverse it. He has also put quite a bit of his own money into his organization.
Your comments about the vulnerability of CI if something should happen to Andy Zawacki are much more true and worrying. Andy, from what I know, is the only person working at CI since Ben Best left, and has a huge amount of practical knowledge. He’s also unbelievably willing to do all the work for very little pay. No way is that going to last forever, but CI is in denial.
I was not aware that I was addressing an open forum. I wanted to reply personally to the author, Gaspar. My off-hand comment on deGrey was based on a book I read recently that was mostly about him. I am vacationing right now and do not have access to the reference. He has a good understanding of the issues in life extension research, but he is also a Pied Piper luring people into the comforting thought that serious life extension is just around the corner, so if we only do this and that, it will come. The SENS message is seriously damaging to cryonics because it undermines the rationale for long term suspended animation.
I am afraid you are both wrong about Andy being the only employee at CI. CI has employed David Fulcher for many years part time. He has extensive experience with CI and could take over all aspects of patient care if Andy was not around. He has been trained specifically for this if Andy would get hurt or worse. Andy has also been working on extensive video training and protocol documentation. CI has plans to expand in depth and hire more people. Several of the directors can also handle support operations and have been doing so for many years. So even though we do not have a large staff we do have back up plans.
First decent perspective I’ve read in a while on the meaning and goals of transhumanism and how to spread the word about it to the uninitiated. Well written and explained.
>>…”We must also prepare for the possibility that we will be making this journey alone, and leaving much of humanity behind. The part that weighs most heavily on my imagination though is that if we are not careful with our approach, the most fundamentally opposed to us will declare a jihad on our ideas. This would be unthinkable, but ultimately it is possible if we ignore the message we are sending to the world.
can2One of the first things I feel we are doing wrong is speaking to the public about immortality. We are jumping to the end of the story, and expecting others to buy it without ever having learned about all of the other steps…”
I like the emphasis on the need to curb radicalism when spreading the message.
Thank you for your kind feedback. Please see the reply I posted above for RonHave for more thoughts on this matter.
We are yet nowhere near the realization of Kant’s imperative, which I believe is the foundation stone of humanism. So-called “transhumanism” is just a neologistic spin on humanism. As our science and technology advances, we have more and more chances to share with one another and to expand our horizons regarding what it means to be “human.” The core of our being will nevertheless remain human. It is anchored in our essence as perpetually hungry and sexually needy life forms. We will not fuse with one another even though we will eventually be able to share better on many levels. The “singularity” is an arid concept, however “near” it may be in the techno-sotted minds of its promoters.
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Please explain in detail what you want to do ?
Something totally outside of this debate is that what constitutes our life is not our Consciousness (a product of the Brain) but our SOUL! And our Soul is an inner spirit which animates all our life,on Earth and in Eternal Life. And that spirit, as well as all spirits, cannot be manipulated nor transfered by by Man to a Robot…
Learn all you can, and pull every string you can, to get in on the radical extension of healthy lifespan likely in the next few decades.
See Aubrey de Grey’s book Ending Aging. Log on to maxlife.org. Would you rather be one of the last to die soon, or one of the first to live long?
If you get bored with long life – a concern often voiced – just stop showing up for your quadrennial aging reversals, and in time dear old Mother Nature will solve the problem for you – permanently. Better to develop new interests.
Vital research is stifled because the FDA does not regard aging as a disease. But many of us who suffer from it do so regard it. Something that first uglifies (at least in this culture), then debilitates, then immiserates, and finally, kills everyone not already dead from other causes, is a disease.
Some great thinking here. I was wondering if this idea is plausible as an alterntive lifestyle choice in other communities and countries. With apartment living on the rise the physical infrastrucutre might already be in place. What else would it take to progress this even sooner than 2050?
The answer to your question depends on what your definition of “alternative lifestyle choice” is and in which community and country you are refering to. Communes are of an any number of types and the particular kind this article is in reference to is the The New Productive kind foreseen or anticipated given the various present day signals pointing to their emergence.
The physical infrastructure for communal living or working has always been in place, because since the begining of civilisations, humanity has lived and worked in communes, but whether the technology, know-how or social conditions exist to support the kind of New Productive Communes as described herein, is another matter. The technologies are still evolving in that direction, our education system still needs a revamp globally and the social conditions are shaping up, give about another decade. It is the educational aspect that will take the longest time to take necessary shape in this case, as technologically humanity has reached a stage where we can almost just imagine something scientifically feasible, and within a short time, it is real.
What would it take to progress this sooner than 2050? The answer is definitely a global transformation of education, whether primary education, innovation education, business education or advance engineering.
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Violation of Conservation of Energy?
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How different is it from Communism ? The higher forms of Communism,is where people get paid just for covering their needs.
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[…] The current research in the field of brain-computer-interfaces (BCI) is concerned primarily with the reverse case. It's about following question: How can information come directly from the brain into the external world? […]
[…] This archive file was compiled from audio of a discussion futurist FM 2030 held at the University of California, February 6th, 1994. In this discussion 2030 laid out an overview of his ‘transhuman’… […]
[…] In the first half of 2013, The Rise of New Productive Communes: A Reality by the Year 2050, a foresight article, was shared on the Visioning 2050 blog . I had shared the foresight of self-sufficient, self-contained and sustainable communes emerging, that would cause no detriment to the environment, but rather help in mitigating the damage humanity has already caused upon it. The New Productive Commune was also presented on this blog as a highly profitable model, that would be synergistic, ensuring that all needs of its each inhabitant would be more than sufficiently met. The New Productive Commune would provide a good life for the community that would reside and work within it, while contributing significantly to the larger economy or the world. The article was later reproduced on the website of Asia’s leading Futurist movement, the India Future Society. […]
[…] In the first half of 2013, The Rise of New Productive Communes: A Reality by the Year 2050, a foresight article, was shared on the Visioning 2050 . The New Productive Commune was presented as a self-sufficient, self-contained and sustainable model, that would cause no detriment to the environment, but rather help in mitigating the damage humanity has already caused upon it. It would be a highly profitable synergistic model, ensuring all needs of its inhabitants. The New Productive Commune would contribute significantly to the larger economy or the world. The article was later reproduced on the website of Asia’s leading Futurist movement, the India Future Society. […]
[…] Needs will almost always come before wants. When it comes to Transhumanism, the ability to differentiate the two tends to blur, because a need could also be a want, depending on the various methods… […]
[…] this will happen along with mass-adoption of holographic projection or visual devices, voiceless communication technology & systems, HMDs (such as the Google Glass due for release any time within the first […]
That’s for publicizing the Praxis fellowship. May I suggest you look to ally yourselves with the Wave?
Sorry – I meant “Thanks” for publicizing…
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