[extropy-chat] Financial Times on transhumanism: Themostdangerousidea on earth?

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Sat May 28 07:36:52 UTC 2005

--- Brett Paatsch <bpaatsch at bigpond.net.au> wrote:
> Which vaccines for deadly diseases did you have in
> mind?
Polio, smallpox, influenza, measles, mumps, tentanus,
hepatatitis B, and many others. In fact, the diseases
for which there are no vaccines for are rather
exceptional in this day and age, essentially either
consisting of newly emergent diseases like SARS (which
doesn't seem to be a big public health concern any
more) and really tricky ones such as HIV. Some of the
newer vaccines in the works are against certain forms
of cancer, nicotine (for people who can't quit
smoking) and one against tooth decay. For the most
part, we now have the technology to develop vaccines
for most diseases within a year's time. Whether there
is funding for the technology to be brought to bear
upon a particular disease however depends a lot on
congress, lobbyists, and whether pharmaceutical
companies think they can turn a profit. My point
however is that the average American has little to
fear from infectious diseases. (Bush's flu vaccine
debacle excepted of course) 

> Which gene-therapies are available to clinicians?

Well the most successful to date has been against ADA
deficiency otherwise known as SCIDs or "bubble boy"
syndrome. In the cases where it was used, the genetic
defect was essentially cured. There has been a
temporary halt to development however because 2
individuals out of some dozens or so have contracted
leukemia potentially as a result of the gene therapy.
Therefore progress on gene therapy has slowed down
considerably in the past couple of years. 

> I'm sceptical that its true as a generalisation that
> a person
> dead for 9 minutes and 59 seconds or less can be
> brought
> back.
Oh they can be. They will never be quite the same but
generally speaking at room temperature, the window for
resuscitation is between 5-10 minutes. The brain
damage starts very quickly however so obviously the
sooner medical attention is recieved, the better. Note
that even at the lower end of this window of 5 minutes
still results in some brain damage but generally less
than 10 minutes is the "salvage" window. There have
been numerous anecdotal cases of people who have been
"dead" at very cold temperatures (bottoms of frozen
lakes and what not for periods of 30 minutes or more
that have been successfully brought back.

 There would be some unusual circumstances
> where
> that could indeed be true but they are unusual
> circumstances
> of what is still 'heroic' medicine.

Nah, its pretty routine actually. One of the post docs
in my lab (an infectious disease specialist) has
brought back a dozen or so himself during his
residency. I mean you could still think of it as
"heroic" but it happens several times a day in most
big hospitals.  

> And as for keeping the mindless-body alive
> indefinately,
> that doesn't seem to be within the range of existing
> general 
> clinical medical practice either. 

It isn't normal practice, but that is for ethical and
financial reasons and not due to technological
reasons. Schiavo for example could have lived well
into old age if they hadn't unplugged her.

> There is plenty of human condition yet to improved
> upon
> and we have very much work still to do. 

I agree with that, but it still doesn't mean that the
practice of medicine hasn't changed or had "break
throughs" since penicillin. 

The Avantguardian 
Stuart LaForge
alt email: stuart"AT"ucla.edu

"The surest sign of intelligent life in the universe is that they haven't attempted to contact us." 
-Bill Watterson

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