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John Tierney writes,

Do you have trouble sticking to a diet? Have patience. Within 10 years, Dr. Kurzweil explained, there will be a drug that lets you eat whatever you want without gaining weight.

At least once at a Milken Institute conference, Gary Becker has suggested that the rise in obesity may be due in part to the not unrealistic expectation that there will be a pharmaceutical cure in the not-too-distant future.

If you read Tierney's entire piece, make sure not to miss the box of "further reading." This IEEE Spectrum symposium on the singularity is particularly worth checking out.

Thanks to Nick Schulz for the pointer.

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CATEGORIES: Growth: Consequences

COMMENTS (5 to date)
PaulJC writes:

When the pharmaceutical industry succeeds with obesity drugs and others, I can't help but wonder what will end up filling our spam boxes.

We already have drugs that prevent the metabolism of fat. Problem is that most foods have some fat, and if you don't metabolize it, things get messy.

The solution will have to come by turning off the hunger signal to the brain.

But we don't need drugs to do that. You can do that by exercising (which makes you feel nauseated, even when you're hungry) and slowly reducing the number of calories eaten over a long period of time.

Phil writes:

Isn't there some way to just avoid the "messiness"? That is, to change the consistency from oily to lardy or (cold) buttery?

Dr. T writes:

Anyone who believes that you can apply generalized equations of medical progress to make predictions within a specific area of medicine is a fool. I had already thought that Dr. Kurzweil was a fool after reading his solar power usage and cost projections, now he reinforces my low opinion of him with this obesity nonsense. Too bad that many will believe him.

Americans want 'magic bullets' that instantly will destroy diseases without harm to themselves. The belief that we soon will have an obesity magic bullet that lets you get and stay thin without dieting or exercising is preposterous. Well, I take that back, we already know how to make a fat person thin without exercise or deliberate dieting -- certain types of cancer do that. We can give people the cancer-related weight loss factors without the cancer, but they will feel almost as sick as if they had cancer. The most likely pharmaceutical choices for effective weight loss are hormones that affect appetite or gastrointestinal functioning. However, these do not work by letting you eat all you want, they work by making you want to eat less. If you override the appetite or GI tract suppression and overeat, then you will continue to gain weight. I know of no drug in development that will allow weight loss without reduced calorie intake. We tried doing this in the past by speeding up metabolism with amphetamines or thyroid hormone, but these were medically dangerous (remember fen-phen?).

Elvis writes:

I read Fantastic Voyage, The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity is Near, and they changed my life. I even found some of his lectures on Itunes and I find myself impatiently awaiting his next book.

Recently read another incredible book that I can't recommend highly enough, especially to all of you who also love Ray Kurzweil's work. The book is ""My Stroke of Insight"" by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. I had heard Dr Taylor's talk on the TED dot com site and I have to say, it changed my world. It's spreading virally all over the internet and the book is now a NYTimes Bestseller, so I'm not the only one, but it is the most amazing talk, and the most impactful book I've read in years. (Dr T also was named to Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People and Oprah had her on her Soul Series last month and I hear they're making a movie about her story so you may already have heard of her)
If you haven't heard Dr Taylor's TEDTalk, that's an absolute must. The book is more and deeper and better, but start with the video (it's 18 minutes). Basically, her story is that she was a 37 yr old Harvard brain scientist who had a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. Because of her knowledge of how the brain works, and thanks to her amazingly loving and kind mother, she eventually fully recovered (and that part of the book detailing how she did it is inspirational).

There's a lot of learning and magic in the book, but the reason I so highly recommend My Stroke of Insight to this discussion, is because we have powerfully intelligent left brains that are rational, logical, sequential and grounded in detail and time, and then we have our kinesthetic right brains, where we experience intuition and peace and euphoria. Now that Kurzweil has got us taking all those vitamins and living our best ""Fantastic Voyage"" , the absolute necessity is that we read My Stroke of Insight and learn from Dr Taylor how to achieve balance between our right and left brains. Enjoy!

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