Saturday, April 22, 2017

Evangelicals Who Actually Believe the Bible

It’s no secret that Donald Trump’s base has a massive component of white, traditional evangelical Christians, a constituency without whom he could not remotely have won the presidential election. The majority in Congress, most in state legislatures and state governors’ mansions also owe their political victories to this constituency.
It is also no secret that a majority of this base, including evangelical ministers willing to risk their tax exempt status by so-proselytizing from the pulpit, have joined in the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-safety-net-for-the-poor rhetoric that has been the core of Donald Trump’s platform throughout his campaign and the basis for most of his early legislative proposals and executive orders. Most of his base has reveled in the personal insults Trump hurls against anyone who remotely opposes him or his views and accepted as truth his myriad unsubstantiated deflections and accusations, ranging from Russian involvement in the election to his denied sexual proclivities even in the face of recorded evidence to the contrary.
Bottom line, there are just too many self-labeled evangelical “Christians” who seem to have edited from their bibles tolerance, kindness, support for the disadvantaged, neighborly love and neither sitting in judgment nor casting the first stone. They are, as I have said on many occasions, “menu Christians,” hypocrites who actually believe that they are practicing Christians even as they patently reject some of the bible’s key mandates.
But before we write off evangelicals or Christian traditionalists in general, it is essential to know that there is an equally growing force of such deeply religious Christians who stand, with those of many faiths, aghast at what they are seeing the new Trump administration saying and doing, people who are very skeptical that Donald Trump ever embraced a true conversion to Christianity. They represent what Christianity is really about.
Most recently I was gratified to see a piece, written by Christian blogger Marvin Thompson, in the April 3rd The Christian Post, an article that seemed like a call-to-action to true Christians, evangelical and otherwise, to stand against Trump and enforce those religious principles that so many “menu Christians” (my words) have chosen to ignore, to me, the essence of Christianity. Here is what Mr. Thompson wrote:
“The LA Times Editorial on April 2, 2017, described Trump and his tactics during the presidential primaries and election as ‘…a narcissist and a demagogue who used fear and dishonesty to appeal to the worst in American voters.’ This is not merely the judgement of a disappointed liberal media unable to come to terms with a devastating election loss, and is now inveighing against the President with unwarranted charges and innuendos. If the Church, and especially evangelical churches, take that view and ignore the many conservative voices, including many within the evangelical community and other Christians not self-identified as evangelicals, then our problems run much deeper that we think.
“No, the LA Times’ conclusion is a commentary on the degradation of evangelical morality. Notice, the worst in American voters. Now, pause and let that sink in.
“Do you get it? Do you see the gravity of the situation for a community that professes to stand on the infallible truth of the Gospel and on immutable biblical principles? No? Then consider that it is the evangelical vote that carried Trump through the primaries and over the top in the election. Do you see it now?
“Not yet? Then consider, further, what we know about Trump, about his lack of a moral compass and his unabashed embrace of it; his disrespect of others, be they male or female or disabled; his willful mendacity; his contempt for God, despite what Paula White, Dobson, et al claim about his so-called conversion (where is the evidence, as evangelicals like to ask?); his catalyzing effect on the worst racist elements of society; his promotion of hatred and violence; his utter lack of empathy for the poor and less fortunate. Nothing has changed since his election as President. Except, he now has the power to propagate his warped morality. This power was given to him by the evangelicals. Does that make it any clearer?
“Unfortunately, there seems to be more attempts to justify voting for Trump by pointing back to the (false) choices presented in the election than to address the real moral problem facing the Church. It is either that evangelicals have exalted as moral acceptable the worst in American voters, or they cannot see the consequences of their actions, which calls into question their understanding of scripture. That is the root of the problem, isn’t it? Biblical illiteracy.
“The charitable path to take in critiquing the state of evangelical morality at the present time is to ascribe it to a lack of knowledge. They lack a knowledge of God; knowledge of what is required for Christians; knowledge of the value of maintaining godly integrity in a morally corrupt society, and just like elections have consequences, there are consequences for evangelicals’ lack of knowledge.
“Hosea 4:6 says, ‘My people will be destroyed, because they have no knowledge. You have refused to learn, so I will refuse to let you be priests to me. You have forgotten the teachings of your God, so I will forget your children’ (NCV).
“Is that a justified charge against evangelicals? Yes. They once demanded an impeccable moral character for their leaders. Now they say it does not matter. They once demanded moral purity, now they say it is more important to have someone in power who may lend support to their various causes. They say that a godly conscience is not as important as love of country. How is it possible for a person who knows the scriptures and the God it reveals, to espouse those views? Bad company corrupts good character (Corinthians 15:33).
“This blog has warned before that evangelicals now own the outcome of what they proudly (but so wrongly) declare to be God’s answer to prayer.
“What happened is more analogous to Jehoshaphat’s ill-advised alliance with Joram in 2 Kings 3, than to God approvingly granting their request. Jehoshaphat ignored the implicit warning of Elisha to Joram in v. 13: ‘Why do you want to involve me? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother.’ Nevertheless, he prophesied a victory. But what seemed like victory because of answered prayers, for the Lord did a miraculous thing by defeating the enemy (vv. 16-25), turned to humiliation in the end. ‘The fury against Israel was great; they withdrew and returned to their own land.’ (v. 26). So even in what seemed like victory was the greater loss of respect and influence.
“The only thing that can come from an alliance of good with evil (for evangelicals incredibly claim that it is morally acceptable to choose one evil over another!) is the dissolution of the good.
“Again, the worst in American voters speaks of those who empowered Trump. What made evangelicals bypass candidates with obvious biblical principles and more godly character for a man so devoid of those virtues? Alas, he appealed to their core values of character and morality. That is an indictment on evangelicals because their overt support validates and elevates his crassness and gutter character. The problem for evangelicals and the Church is convincing the world of sinners, skeptics, and cynics that there remains any abiding morality.” Wow!
I’m Peter Dekom, I am humbled by Mr. Thompson’s words and grateful to hear a biblical interpretation that is consistent with the Christian teachings I learned as a boy.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Foreigners and the Olympics

Let’s face it, hosting summer or winter Olympics is hideously expensive. Sure, the impacted communities generate massive additional revenues to local businesses; local infrastructure and hospitality capacity often get a boost, and more than a few new competitive venues get added. Television monies are pretty good as well. But having all those new buildings is not always good. For nations that truly do not need these additional competitive sites – like the above abandoned beach volleyball stadium from the 2004 summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, noting that even some of China’s recent Olympic venues are in a state of decay – much of this construction is simply a waste. The recent competition in Brazil saw a nation caught with cash shortages and unexpected delays resulting in a not-quite-finished set of competitive stadia and supporting structures. Overages have become quite the norm, it seems.
“Sports-related costs for the Summer Games since 1960 is on average USD 5.2 billion and for the Winter Games USD 3.1 billion. This does not include wider infrastructure costs like roads, urban rail, and airports, which often cost as much or more than the sports-related costs. The most expensive Summer Games are London 2012 at USD 15 billion and the most expensive Winter Games are Sochi 2014 at USD 21.9 billion, again including only sports-related costs. Costs per athlete is on average USD 0.6 million for the Summer Games and USD 1.3 million for the Winter Games. For London 2012, cost per athlete was USD 1.4 million; for Sochi 2014, USD 7.9 million.
“Budget overruns are common for the Games. Average overrun for Games since 1960 is 156% in real terms, which means that actual costs turned out to be on average 2.56 times higher than the budget that was estimated at the time of winning the bid to host the Games. Montreal 1976 had the highest cost overrun for Summer Games, and for any Games, at 720%; Lake Placid 1980 had the highest cost overrun for Winter Games, at 324%. London 2012 had a cost overrun of 76%, Sochi 2014 of 289%.” Wikipedia. Whew! Which means that economic realities have become vastly more important in determining where the Olympics can be played.
For richer communities, which already have a number of available sports facilities and stadia, the burden is obviously more tolerable. We are increasingly watching smaller, less affluent nations, back out of what were initial efforts to garner the international prestige associated with hosting an Olympic competition, particularly the ability to showcase national cultural excellence to the world. Beijing and London took advantage of this opportunity in 2008 and 2012 respectively, presenting some of the most opulent opening and closing ceremonies the world had ever seen. On the other hand in 2016, Rio de Janeiro may have created some negative perceptions as it didn’t quite live up to expectations.
But as bidding for the 2024 summer Olympics opened up, the countries/cities willing to bear the expected financial burden dwindled rapidly. “With Budapest pulling out of the competition in February, citing disapproval from Hungarian citizens, only Los Angeles and Paris are left in the running.” Mary Pilon writing for The New Yorker, April 17th.
There is probably nothing more open, friendly and international that an Olympics. But with terrorism threats, the additional cost for needed security and the escalating trend towards limiting people entering countries where that threat is perceived as particularly high, isn’t strange that the two countries left in the bidding process – France and the United States – have become two of the most recently openly hostile countries to foreign travelers crossing their borders?
“There’s a certain irony to this endgame: the two remaining host countries have a President, in one case, and a strong Presidential candidate, in the other, who for many symbolize the opposite of global friendship. Donald Trump made the notions of ‘America First’ and closing the borders themes of his Inauguration address. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, has opposed her country’s membership in the European Union. (The French Presidential election begins on April 23rd.) Like Trump, Le Pen has expressed a desire to curb immigration and return her country to its nationalist roots. Both use pugnacious language that’s far from the flowery, idealistic prose favored by the Olympic movement.
“That these countries are the last ones standing is not surprising given the lack of competition. So anemic is the host-city bidding process that leaders of the International Olympic Committee met last month, in South Korea, to establish a panel to examine rewriting the Olympic charter and award a 2024-2028 double bid to Los Angeles and Paris, partially, people familiar with the process said, to spare the I.O.C. the humiliation of another lackluster round of bidding. Only two cities stepped up to host the 2022 Winter Games—Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan. (Snowless Beijing won, and will spend nearly ninety million dollars on ‘water-diversion schemes,’ according to the Economist.)…
“The stakes for the U.S. winning and staging a successful Olympic Games feel particularly high. Americans have not hosted the Olympics since 2002, when the Winter Games were held in Salt Lake City. (The last American Summer Olympics was held in Atlanta, in 1996.) A bid to host the 2016 Summer Games in Chicago suffered a humiliating defeat. U.S. Olympic officials have recently been successful inrepairing relationships with I.O.C. members, largely due to a new agreement regarding revenue sharing for broadcast rights.
“But Trump’s policies have created new tension: Will the already staggering logistics of bringing some eleven thousand athletes from more than two hundred countries to American soil be complicated by Trump’s (still unenforceable) executive order barring citizens from some Muslim-majority countries? The I.O.C.’s host-city contract requires all athletes be allowed in the country for the duration of the Games, regardless of what host leaders may think.
“Trying to understand the psyche of I.O.C. voters is akin to getting inside a papal conclave: there are no exit polls or public discussions, and voting takes place behind closed doors. Much of the electorate is made up of European men, with a few sheikhs and royal-family members—an √©lite set that is far less likely to be interested in the implications of Trump’s Presidency than many of the citizens he governs. It’s also possible that Trump may not be in office by the time the Games are set to be hosted.
“In a February radio interview with Westwood One, Trump endorsed the L.A. Olympic Games. (It probably doesn’t hurt that golf, a Trump pastime and area of investment, entered the Olympic program in Rio, last year.) ‘I would love to see the Olympics go to Los Angeles,’ Trump said. ‘I think that it’ll be terrific. The United States committee’s members have asked me to speak up about it, and I have, and I think I’ve helped them, and let’s see what happens. But I’d be very happy and honored if they would choose Los Angeles, and we’d stand behind it.’ (Meanwhile, organizers of the Paris bid have hedged their bets and befriended all the candidates leading in the polls.).” Pilon in The New Yorker.
In the end, global politics, escalating conflicts and hard economic realities are rewriting the face of world competitive events. And where nations are building walls and limiting the ability to cross their borders, can such countries even think about getting into bidding for such international competitions? As increasing numbers Western powers retreat from open movement of immigrants, pose questions of religiously-mandated apparel, raise potential trade barriers and pull back from globalization, are we witnessing a complete shift in how and where international events can take place in the foreseeable future? Is this a part of the decline of the West and the rise of the East?
I’m Peter Dekom, and as the world changes, as populism replaces democracy, even our ability to host and play competitive sports becomes materially altered.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Social Media, Religion and Post Truth

Fake news has been with mankind since people began gathering around the fire to past on tribal history and discuss recent events. It’s been with us since language began. “Propaganda” has been government policy for millennia. What the modern era has brought to us is the ability to disseminate any communication instantly and globally. Technology has amplified and powerfully manipulated this world of post-truth – “alternative facts.” And tons of people believe what they see and hear, often stubbornly clinging to such beliefs notwithstanding clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.
The proclivity of people to believe fake news, unquestioningly, is disturbing: “A BuzzFeed analysis of the most-shared false election stories compared to the most-shared true election stories showed that fake outperformed real. Another survey found that fake news headlines fool American adults 75 percent of the time.
“Independent of partisanship, the idea that American political discourse centers more on falsehood than fact is concerning. In the age of the internet, information is supposed to be democratized — any adult can search independent fact-checking sites like PolitiFact or Snopes to see that the Sanders ballots and Pope endorsement stories have no basis in truth. But for some reason, a majority of us are still fooled. Why?
“In short, according to Northwestern psychology professor David Rapp, it’s how we’re wired. His research on memory and learning has shown that our minds quickly memorize information we learn, independent of its validity or source. If we later discover that it is false, that does not necessarily override the initial story.
“‘A lot of our research looks at what happens when people encounter information that’s not true, and when they know it’s not true,’ Rapp says. ‘We’ve shown that people will repeat that information and use it. We don’t know if they believe it, but we know they’re going to repeat it and we know they’re going to use it. That’s a real problem.’” Mind the Misinformation, Northwestern Magazine, Spring 2017.  What’s worse, the dissemination of fake news can be specifically targeted at those who would most want to believe those falsehoods.
Simply, technology is now being (and has been) deployed to plant stories, even to create the actual messages that are disseminated through some pretty scary automated processes specifically programmed to cater to the fears and prejudices of the American body politic, very effectively deployed by the Trump campaign. It can only get more manipulative as artificial intelligence becomes increasingly sophisticated and as tracking software gathers more personal information about each and every one of us. Here is just one example of how it’s done:
“By leveraging automated emotional manipulation alongside swarms of bots, Facebook dark posts, A/B testing, and fake news networks, a company called Cambridge Analytica has activated an invisible machine that preys on the personalities of individual voters to create large shifts in public opinion. Many of these technologies have been used individually to some effect before, but together they make up a nearly impenetrable voter manipulation machine that is quickly becoming the new deciding factor in elections around the world.” The Rise of the Weaponized AI Propaganda Machine by Berit Anderson & Bret Horvath in Scout.AI.
But religious beliefs have challenged facts from the first moment humans recognized a deity. The unexplained was often “explained” by religious doctrine, and once embedded, that doctrine has often proven to be rather unshakeable even as science provided more logical results. As public education has flourished, it has frequently found itself in rather direct conflict with traditional religious teachings.
In modern history, religion and science have often traded places as to which force is more socially powerful. In the 1700s, the “Age of Reason” (including the “Age of Enlightenment”) – see my February 28th I Don’t Want Your Stickin’ Facts! for more – religious teachings were downgraded in a surge of political, technological, scientific and artistic growth. But with the violence of the class-leveling, anti-cleric French Revolution, the subsequent revulsion of that bloodshed soon returned religiosity to the fore and sent scientists scrambling for their lives.
That cycle has repeated itself, as evidenced in the United States in the battle between white Christian traditionalists – led by the religious right and Donald Trump – and younger, better-educated, culturally/ethnically/racially diverse voters whose heroes include neo-socialist Bernie Sanders. We’ve seen parallel movements all over the world as well. But now we have equally-power factions at odds with each other at the same time: religious fundamentalists vs. scientific realists. To understand how deep evangelical teachings have led to a massive social rejection of rather clear scientific fact, Molly Worthen, writing for the New York Times Sunday Review (April 13th),  explains how evangelicals are raised with beliefs defined in defiance of science:
“[To] to the Christian writer Rachel Held Evans, charges of ‘fake news’ are nothing new. ‘The deep distrust of the media, of scientific consensus — those were prevalent narratives growing up,’ she told me… Although Ms. Evans, 35, no longer calls herself an evangelical, she attended Bryan College, an evangelical school in Dayton, Tenn. She was taught to distrust information coming from the scientific or media elite because these sources did not hold a ‘biblical worldview.’
“‘It was presented as a cohesive worldview that you could maintain if you studied the Bible,’ she told [Molly Worthen]. ‘Part of that was that climate change isn’t real, that evolution is a myth made up by scientists who hate God, and capitalism is God’s ideal for society.’
“Conservative evangelicals are not the only ones who think that an authority trusted by the other side is probably lying. But they believe that their own authority — the inerrant Bible — is both supernatural and scientifically sound, and this conviction gives that natural human aversion to unwelcome facts a special power on the right. This religious tradition of fact denial long predates the rise of the culture wars, social media or President Trump, but it has provoked deep conflict among evangelicals themselves.”
With too many staunch and hard-working Americans being marginalized by automation, economic polarization, and global competition, clearly lacking the skills necessary to prosper in an ultra-modern technologically-driven society, a rejection of that technology (and those who have pushed it forward) is understandable. Not fitting in or trusting these “modern changes,” there has been a resurgence in embracing evangelical Christianity, rejecting the principles underlying disruptive social and technical change. Unfortunately, history has never been kind to any nation that refuses to accept technological progress, since global competitors will always use cutting-edge technology to advance their own goals at the expense of societies that remain mired in traditional religiosity at the expense of such progressive change.
We are still trying to understand the impact of social media on the techno-political changes around us, to explain the extremes of polarization that seem to infect every aspect of our social fabric. It is conventional wisdom that the ability to filter out unwanted facts and affiliate with those of comparable beliefs is enabled by social media, hence fostering these polarized extremes.
“Many have argued that social media, where users can find their viewpoints reinforced with slanted news stories and the partisan commentary of friends, has played a role in reinforcing tribal political identities.
“That explanation has been percolating long enough and loud enough that it has even reached the Oval Office. In an interview he gave before leaving office, President Barack Obama gestured to the rise of social media as a key factor in the continuing political polarization of the United States, arguing that Americans were trapping themselves within filter bubbles, limiting their own perspectives…
“But a new working paper suggests that the demographic groups that have experienced the most political polarization in recent years are the ones least likely to be consuming media online… The paper, issued last month by the National Bureau of Economic Research and written by economics professors from Stanford and Brown Universities, found that the growth in political polarization was most significant among older Americans, who were least likely to use the internet between 1996 and 2012, the years for which data was available when the paper was written.
“Jesse M. Shapiro, an economics professor at Brown and one of the authors of the paper, detailed the paper’s findings in an interview on Wednesday [4/12]… ‘We found that basically, polarization is rising at least as fast for older Americans as it is for younger,’ he said. ‘So a simple story that says polarization is rising because people are consuming media online has some trouble explaining that fact.’” New York Times, April 13th.
In the end, looking at the rise of college education here in the United States, these traditional views – more heavily held by older and less-educated Americans – will fade and be replaced by… oh… that is the question. By what? How will we reconfigure our socio-political systems to deal with things like “jobs replaced by artificial intelligence” and rising ultra-violent religious groups intent on global conversion?
I’m Peter Dekom, and how humanity has dealt with continuous disruptive technology defines who we are… and what we are going to be.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Other 3D

In the world of “machines replace workers,” where artificial intelligence looms at the biggest near-term employment challenge, technology is accelerating. My grandfather was a gifted machinist as he worked in what has now become the Rust Belt… Dayton, Ohio. His Teutonic precision allowed him to make just about anything out of metal, machine parts within unbelievable tolerances, from custom fits to the tools needed to make other very precise metallic pieces. He was at the top of his game, a master-craftsman without parallel. But today, his excellence is simply obsolete. Computer assisted design (CAD) has advanced into what is today a world of machines that implement those designs directly: 3D printing.
What started out as a lovely experiment has now resulted in 3D printers well within the reach of ordinary hobbyists to much more sophisticated equipment able to make the most complex parts to tolerances that exceed those humans could match. The machines work in plastics, wood and just about any kind of metal, most recently titanium. The impact of costs is staggering… as workers find themselves replaced with these magnificently-accurate “printers.” The April 11th PCMag.com uses recent advances at Boeing to explain how far we have come:
“Boeing manages to build 144 of its 787 Dreamliner commercial aircraft every year. Each one costs $265 million, with $17 million of that going on strong and lightweight titanium alloy components required to support the carbon fiber fuselage and wings. However, thanks to Norsk Titanium, the Dreamliner is about to get cheaper, saving Boeing as much as $3 million per plane.
“[On April 10th], Norsk Titanium delivered the world's first FAA-approved 3D printed, structural titanium component. These components use Norsk's Rapid Plasma Deposition (RPD) process, and the results are thanks to a close collaboration with Boeing who designed the parts for use in the Dreamliner.
“As reported by Reuters, Norsk's Chip Yates, vice president of marketing, claims the switch to 3D printed titanium parts, ‘means $2 million to $3 million in savings for each Dreamliner, at least.’
“If the $3 million saving is realized, it scales up to a cost reduction of $432 million every year based on current production numbers. Seeing as the Dreamliner only started generating a profit for Boeing last year and already cost the company around $29 billion in ‘production-related losses,’ this is surely welcome news.
“Norsk Titanium President & Chief Executive Officer Warren M. Boley, Jr. commented that, ‘The Norsk Titanium team will continue to expand the portfolio of components supplied to Boeing meeting stringent certification requirements.’ That suggests this could just be the start of the cost savings brought about by replacing traditional and expensive manufacturing with significantly cheaper and faster 3D printing.” Scary and inevitable. Workers are quivering with less than delight.
But what would happen if the manufacturing materials were effectively driven by DNA, cells from the body of persons in need of transplants? Possible? Can we “3D print” body parts and organs? We’ve been using stem cells to regenerate failing body parts or parts that need rebuilding for a while now.
2013: “Many sports fans who hear about this [stem cell regeneration] procedure that uses an athlete’s own cells to treat their injuries immediately think of the treatments [NBA basketball’s] Kobe [Bryant] has been famously flying to Germany to receive. But there are clear distinctions between the treatment Kobe has been getting to help his right knee (a knee which has logged the 12th most minutes in NBA history) and this stem cell therapy procedure.
“‘Kobe has been receiving regenerative treatments including PRP (platelet-rich plasma),’ [Dr. Rajagopalan (Dr. Raj), an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports and fitness procedures] says. ‘Our treatment has more healing properties than PRP because we get the stem cells from bone marrow instead of blood. PRP has to be done many times and stem cell injections from bone marrow are a one-time treatment.’” PostGame.com (12/6/13). But we’ve progressed a lot since 2013.
Using stem cells for more complex surgical replacements is beginning to be the next phase of American sports injury repair. That technical feat has most recently been utilized to repair baseball pitchers’ throwing arms in lieu of “Tommy John’s” elbow surgery (on the ulnar collateral ligament or UCL) with astounding success.  
“The problem is that the Tommy John surgery recovery timeline is substantial. Weeks to months spent in a splint and then months more of rehab and a whole season lost. Is there a better way? We’ve successfully treated UCL tears using either SCP (our enhanced version of platelet rich plasma) or same day stem cells (for bigger tears). These newer therapies have a much faster recovery timeline than surgery.” Regenexx.com.
“Recently, MLB’s Los Angeles Angels starting pitchers Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney were both presumed to be out for the season due to tears in their ulnar collateral ligaments in their respective throwing elbows. This type of injury is what leads to Tommy John surgery.  This surgical procedure consists of extracting a healthy tendon from an arm or leg and then using this to replace a torn ligament in the arm. After the surgery, patients can expect a 12-14 month recovery.” ActionSportsMedicine.com. Use stem cells instead of surgery? These pitchers are finding recovery time reduced by as much as two-thirds, and in some cases net throwing power has been enhanced. Wow! But is there a “next” beyond even this phase of stem cell treatment?
What if entire parts were able to be 3D printed (cloned?) to place older damaged, disfigured or worn out body parts.“Bioengineers from the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have spent more than a decade developing a system for 3D-printing tissues and organs that could eventually be used in transplants…  
“‘It is estimated that every 30 seconds, a patient dies from a disease that could be treated with tissue replacement,’ says Anthony Atala, director of Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. ‘There are simply not enough donor tissues and organs to meet demand. Regenerative medicine offers the hope of engineering replacement organs in the lab to help solve this shortage. Because these organs would be made with a patient’s own cells, there would be no issues with rejection as there are with organs from donors.’
“Like other 3D printers, the equipment developed by the researchers prints materials in precise layers. But instead of using plastic or metal, the machine uses gels filled with cells and a biodegradable, plastic-like material that holds the tissue in a specific shape. A lattice of tiny, capillary-like channels in the structure takes in nutrients and oxygen when the tissue is implanted, so it stays alive.
In 2016, the researchers announced that they had successfully 3D-printed a baby-sized human ear, a jawbone, and muscle tissue. After implanting them in lab animals, the body parts survived–something that hadn’t happened in many previous attempts to make 3D-printed tissue–and actually grew. The ear began to grow blood vessels after a month.
“We have been able to print human scale constructs that, when implanted in experimental models, developed a system of nerves and blood vessels and were functional,” says Atala. “The research indicates that tissue structures printed with the system have the right size, strength, and function for use in humans.”
“The researchers engineered tissues and organs in the past that were implanted in patients, but those were created by hand. With the use of 3D-printers, they will be able to reach many more people.” FastCompany.com, April 12th. Remarkable. We’re going to help people live longer, live healthier even as they may not have the jobs or healthcare! In the meantime, I need a new left knee! Any ideas?!
I’m Peter Dekom, and we need both continued support for medical and technological research coupled with socio-political planning to accommodate the inevitable changes such advancement will cause.