[extropy-chat] Cryonics is the only option?

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Sun Apr 15 12:13:52 UTC 2007

On 4/15/07, ben <benboc at lineone.net> wrote:

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.

It's possible in principle, but I don't see how removing the brain from the
body would be any advance over what is currently done when organ systems
start failing, which is to try to fix them medically or surgically, and if
that doesn't work to replace them with artificial alternatives such as renal
dialysis. The most extreme examples are seen in Intensive Care Units, where
multiple organ systems often fail together and people are kept alive for
moderately long periods with external machinery. In the future this may
progress to the point where a person can be kept alive indefinitely even
though little more than his brain is functioning, as per your scenario.
However, even if the machines work perfectly, the brain itself will still be
subject to aging and the diseases of aging; and if we could find a way to
stop this for the brain, we probably would have found it for the rest of the
body as well.

Stathis Papaioannou
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