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Daruko
November 25th, 2009, 11:17 PM
So everyone knows we live a fuck of a lot longer than primates on earth did about a hundred years ago. They lived quite a bit longer than primates a thousand years before them. Longevity research is increasingly being conducted all over the world, in prestigiously accredited universities such as MIT and Cambridge and in the private and government sectors. It is arguably feasible within the next century to develop the appropriate technology required to extend human life expectancy to new heights. Ray Kurzweil, MIT, would say that it is not only feasible, but inevitable. Now, aside from overpopulation issues, imagine that the eradication of disease and a dramatic decrease in the rate of genetic corruption does in fact come into being.

It's okay for this thread to divulge into other things, like sociopolitical problems, or cultural changes, but most specifically I wonder about the philosophical ramifications. I suppose as much as I like to think I'm not too attached to my ideologies, this might be the result of one seeping through to the surface. Yasee, I've agreed with Kurzweil for years about this being a good thing, another cool benefit of science and technology. Even a luddite is gonna think twice when he's lying on the operating table and the doctor says, "Well son. You're gonna die if we don't put these nanobots into your heart right now." But on the other hand, how long do we want to prolong death? And if the technology exists to prolong death, how much access do you feel people should have to it? I suppose if I could live as long as I wanted to, I might like to have the final say about when I tuck in for the night, but do I really?

In that new movie Surrogates, there's the exploration of the idea of being able to plug into an artificial body with all the sensation of your biological body, but experience your daily life with preferred specifications, such as a thinner figure, a different gender, age, and so on. This crazy shit is again, arguably feasible and/or inevitable over the next several decades. Additionally, there is the accelerating pace of innovative advances toward full immersion virtual reality, a field which may be on the virge of completely exploding, changing human life in less time with far more effect than teh internet, especially if we are able to engineer ever more sophisticated universal quantum computers. Let's say the transhumanists have it nailed, and at least some of the human race starts upgrading.

In Surrogates, one character, pointing a gun at another character, one who is used to living his life in an artifical body, says something like, 'You feel your heart racing? The rush of bloodflow up in your brain? Shortness of breath? That's what you've been missing.' He's got a point. What happens to a person who no longer has to experience pain? How long before pleasure goes dead from lack of contrast? What happens to exhilaration? What equivalent to adrenaline could be engineered?

Kurzweil would argue that death is a disease, and should be cured. I think that's a reasonable statement. But I'm also with Alan Watts when he talks about death giving life meaning in some sense. So what if we stopped dying? What affect would this have on the human mind? What is the cutoff point for a good lifespan... 150 years? 300? 1000? Assuming it were sustainable, and that's pretty fucking optimistic, but what then? Could the nanotech revolution become a new profound frontier for human evolution, or will it inevitably ruin us? What do you think?

The Good Reverend Roger
November 26th, 2009, 03:09 PM
Kurzweil would argue that death is a disease, and should be cured. I think that's a reasonable statement. But I'm also with Alan Watts when he talks about death giving life meaning in some sense. So what if we stopped dying?


There are 6.6 billion primates on the planet, and the planet's "carrying capacity" is about 3.5-4 billion, sustainable.

If we extended human life by even 20 years, we'd be assholes to elbows within the span of one generation. Hell, our present population is turning the planet into a desert.

So I think it's a terrible idea. Instead, we should invent the holodeck, and let dumb people starve themselves to death doing that Socrates thing you mentioned.

Daruko
November 26th, 2009, 04:48 PM
Instead, we should invent the holodeck, and let dumb people starve themselves to death doing that Socrates thing you mentioned.
I think it'll happen. There'll be a huge grey area though, because this same technology will augment interfaces over our daily lives. Imagine Googling or online gaming by thinking your input, and then seeing the results out in front of you, wherever you're at. Many will go overboard with it, and starve themselves or something. Many more will have a problem, like people do with shit today. What I don't see is mass numbers of people dying because they spend too much time in virtual reality. For one, we won't have tactile for a good while, and that's bound to have the largest effect on people. Second, people already basically do this with their television sets and with online gaming.

What exactly do you get if you mix the Matrix, Idiocracy (http://www.metacafe.com/watch/2682654/idiocracy_opening_sequence/), and Modern Times (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0XjRivGfiw) together?

Or maybe Hans Moravec is right, and we invent ourselves out of existence. If intelligent machines become the technology of choice for whole generations of people, humans could be phased out before the end of this century. This could potentially solve the issue with overpopulation at the cost of losing our genetic background. If carbon-based biology goes out the window, then I still have these questions.. What about adrenaline, pain, death, exhiliration? What are we losing/gaining in the process, from the standpoint of individual potential?

rmw
November 26th, 2009, 05:16 PM
As Roger pointed out, there'd be the problem of overpopulation. You could mandate birth control (one child per couple, sterilization, etc.), so that as longevity increased, there wouldn't be a corresponding population increase (or non-decrease, as the case might be). But of course, mandated birth control leads into an ugly quagmire of ethics and rights. Would you (and could you) go down that path?*

*"You" being the general usage of the word, not directed at a specific person.

Daruko
November 26th, 2009, 05:20 PM
I'm all for mandating birth control, as long as we aren't killing kids or stealing kids to make it happen.

Also, rmw, I was editing the end of that last post while you posted, my bad. I took an angle on the overpopulation issue.

rmw
November 26th, 2009, 05:28 PM
I'm all for mandating birth control, as long as we aren't killing kids or stealing kids to make it happen.


Well, when it comes to mandated birth control, I don't think anybody is interested in killing children. Although that does bring up the issue of abortion. Daruko, setting aside the ethical question of forced abortions, would you consider them to be in the same category as killing children? (Serious question, btw.)

Daruko
November 26th, 2009, 05:34 PM
Well, when it comes to mandated birth control, I don't think anybody is interested in killing children. Although that does bring up the issue of abortion. Daruko, setting aside the ethical question of forced abortions, would you consider them to be in the same category as killing children? (Serious question, btw.)
No, but I think it depends on the feelings of those involved. My stance on abortion is entirely my own, and based more on a feeling than a thought. I wouldn't have the stomach for doing it with a child of mine, but how other people handle the reproduction of their offspring, in terms of limiting it, isn't a huge concern of mine when the child hasn't been born yet. I don't get caught up in the whole question of WHEN the fetus is too intelligent to harm. There's no reason to draw a hard line where there obviously isn't one, and chances are, it'll grow up to be a prick anyway.

Loki
November 27th, 2009, 02:02 AM
Daruko and Roger sitting on a swing....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkwEK9AYQHg&NR=1

Daruko
November 27th, 2009, 07:44 PM
http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k270/reflexarc/unamusedKITT.gif