[extropy-chat] Cryonics is the only option?
benboc at lineone.net
Sun Apr 15 08:15:37 UTC 2007
Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:
> Cryonics is a nice way of putting your money where your mouth is.
> Also, because it doesn't look as if life extension will achieve
> escape velocity in our biological life time, cryonics is the only
> option if you want to sample the transhuman future in person. The
> only option. There is no other, currently.
This may be literally true now (April 2007), but i suspect that it won't
be true for long. I can't say how long it will be before life-extension
(defined as keeping people alive in their current form) becomes
available, but i think there is a third option that should be possible
quite soon - maybe within a decade.
Nobody seems to think about keeping people alive (which means keeping
their brain alive) in /any/ form, it's always in a human body.
What occurs to me is that, as long as your brain is kept alive and can
communicate with the outside world, you are surviving. The rest of the
body doesn't matter, it can be regarded as a life-support system for the
brain, as well as providing transport, sense organs and communication.
Given a constant blood supply, a brain can stay alive even if the rest
of the body is gone, or damaged beyond repair (This doesn't apply, of
course, if your problem is a damaged brain, but the vast majority of
cases of death boil down to one simple thing: The brain starves of oxygen).
So, how about a replacement body? An artificial life-support system. It
wouldn't at first be anything like a human body, probably more like a
roomful of equipment, but that could change as more developments are made.
I'm not saying this would be easy to do, but it seems to me that the
problems of providing neural interfaces are harder than the problems of
providing a suitable blood supply. With the progress being made in that
area, it shouldn't be long before, at least in theory, someone could
keep their brain alive and functioning despite the loss of the rest of
the body. Maybe some of the sensory organs (eyes, ears) could be kept
alive together with the brain.
Whether you'd want to do this is another matter, but it's survival, and
it means you have the possibility of continuing to interact with the
world, to make decisions and earn your keep. Things that cryonics
patients can't do.
Of course, this would be a temporary state, until the kind of technology
you are interested in comes along. That's another advantage over
cryonics: You can make a decision about what to do next, when the time
I was thinking about Stephen Hawking. Would you be willing to be in a
position similar to his for a while if it meant you could keep going? I
think we aren't far from being able to achieve this.
You may prefer to be suspended and take your chances. Some people would
even prefer to be dead, i'm sure, than live as a 'brain in a jar', even
though it would just be temporary. But it's something to think about.
Now, who thinks i'm talking bollocks? And if so, why?
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