[ExI] Jarheads

Ben bbenzai at yahoo.com
Tue Jun 10 08:42:24 UTC 2014

Rafal Smigrodzki <rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com> wrote:

 > On Fri, Jun 6, 2014 at 2:55 PM, Tara Maya <tara at taramayastales.com> 
 >> I can't help but think of Futurama's Heads in Jars.
 >### Let's think about it! You need the following components, all of them
 >only about 20% of regular human size or less:
 >1. Heart - can be impeller-driven, already available,
 >2. Lung - could be grown from a 3D printed scaffold, small rodent size
 >alpha release versions already available. Could use donor tissue, a small
 >bit of lung would be enough
 >3. Liver - can be definitely grown in the lab
 >4. Kidney - not yet grown but could use a small bit of donor kidney
 >5. Hematopoietic tissue - doable, maybe could induce hematopoiesis in the
 >liver or even skull marrow
 >6. Vascular system - doable today, can be 3D printed and seeded
 >7. Various endocrine tissues - bits of endocrine pancreas, adrenals, could
 >use donor tissue
 >We dispense with GI tract, GU organs except kidney, skeleton, muscle. 
 >block items 1 - 7 in a compact unit, pump purified air in, have a
 >continuous IV nutrient feed, continuous urine and bile removal (no bladder
 >or gallbladder). The whole unit sown to the head vascular supply, with no
 >other connections to it - so it's easy to cut it off and attach a new one.
 >The neck stump completely covered with skin with only vascular access port
 >and maybe a sterile air port for speech generation. Both life support unit
 >and head in a sterile enclosure, so the immune system can wiped out 
and you
 >can have a unit made from multiple donor tissues without immunosuppressive
 >drugs. I would keep the upper spinal cord attached and the brachial plexus
 >nerves grafted to neck muscles for trophic support. Motor commands and 
 >sensory input could be routed through these nerves. All this mounted on a
 >motorized trolley.
 >Running costs would not be extreme, IV nutrition is a commodity item, 
 >would be no need for continuous supply of any human-derived products, no
 >complex external devices (dialysis, artificial liver, artificial
 >oxygenation), only an air pump with filter, power to the heart. No nursing
 >costs, although cleaning the head might have to be done occasionally. The
 >trolley would have prosthetic arms to allow the user to self-service and
 >generally get stuff done. I would remove hair with laser, so there 
would be
 >no need for haircuts. One donorcycle body could supply organs for maybe as
 >many as 10 jarheads.
 >This could be technically doable in the not-too-distant future. The main
 >limitation would be dementia in the head, but if the donor tissues were
 >young heterochronic - who knows how long the brain could potter along.
Adrian Tymes <atymes at gmail.com> added:
 >What about hormone glands?  Wouldn't you need to replicate them as well?

Yes.  Hormones are important for keeping the brain happy!

Let's take the idea a bit further:  Instead of a head in a jar, why not 
a brain in a 'jar' or rather a sealed, armoured container with 
connections to the cardiovascular, lymphatic and nervous networks, 
housed in a robotic body that also contains the life-support biological 
parts, sense organs, a set of control systems, and a bunch of new organs 
to replace the ancillary functions of the original parts that have been 
eliminated (eg. bone doesn't just support your weight, it also acts as a 
reservior of calcium and phosphorus, lungs play a part in blood-pressure 
regulation, etc.)

Perhaps it would be possible to create something like the avatars in the 
film 'Surrogates', but with the difference that they contain the brain 
and a set of essential biological organs keeping it alive?

Ben Zaiboc

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