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Transhumanism?
Posted: 20 June 2012 11:10 AM   [ Ignore ]
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What do you think about transhumanism, and the wish of people to prolong human life?

I think the idea of living for thousands of years sound interesting, you could amass a lot of knowledge and do long term research, or even build up a new field of scientific activity by yourself, or learn some hundred languages.

I also think that the Idea of human enhancement is not that bad*, if we look at it objectively then we see that we are flawed creatures.
Yes sure, Perfection can not be achieved but better senses, or nano machines in the bloodstream to prevent infections dont sound that bad.   

 

 

*If we don’t tamper with what we are, or restrict the healthy diversity of our genetic material (btw disease are NOT healthy diversity).

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Posted: 20 June 2012 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Unless we figure out a way to stabilize and reverse our population growth—and/or discover a limitless source of energy and resources—I think it would be immoral to extend the human lifespan much beyond what it is today in the rich nations.

But it is an interesting topic.

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Posted: 20 June 2012 11:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Much simpler to just shift your beliefs to theism.  That way, you’ll live forever in the lap of god.  LOL

Occam

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Posted: 20 June 2012 01:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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A long time ago DJ Grothe interviewed Aubrey de Grey on PoI. I did not find it at all convincing. A lot of hand waving about future technology.

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Posted: 20 June 2012 06:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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What do you think about transhumanism, and the wish of people to prolong human life?

While it’s understandable, I don’t think it’s realistic. Even if it could be done, I don’t think I’d want to live for thousands of years.

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Posted: 20 June 2012 08:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Occam. - 20 June 2012 11:48 AM

Much simpler to just shift your beliefs to theism.  That way, you’ll live forever in the lap of god.  LOL

Occam

So true!

While I think transhumanism is a cool subject to read about, a lot of the leading proponents of it are basically gripped with religious fervor, and it makes them put total faith in their predictions. Humans have always enhanced ourselves with technology though, and some of the tranhumanist toys will no doubt become reality.

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Posted: 21 June 2012 06:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Did anybody here read Robert J. Sawyer’s FlashForward?  While not explicitly about transhumanism, there are some interesting transhumanist themes in the last chapter at the book.  To be clear: Sawyer is a sci-fi writer; this is a novel not a science/pseudoscience book.

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Posted: 21 June 2012 11:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I too think that some people are overenthusiastic, if we talk about the time frame, but i don’t see any obstacles in getting these things done, they don’t bend the laws of physics.

Also some technologies may really be “here” very soon, research has changed too*, and is accelerating, the human genome project was estimated to be finished somewhere from 2010 to 2015.
I think we will see a lot of changes in the next years, if we are not forced to live in some sort of theocracy which restricts scientific research.


*distributed Computing over the internet and solving methods invented by participants of foldit for example.

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Posted: 21 June 2012 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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At first thought, it would appear that one would get bored after not too long, but from my recent experiences with other senior citizens I realize it would be great since most of us re-tell jokes and anecdotes and everyone enjoys them because we’ve all forgotten having heard them before.  As a transhuman we’d just go though a lifetime, forget it and do it again.  LOL

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Posted: 21 June 2012 12:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Oh I think it’s here already. Look at the “Dick Cheney”...the LVAD. It literally is a portable machine that circulates your blood because your heart can’t. To me that’s prolonging life through technology.  As far as *wanting* to do this? Short term sure, it adds a couple extra years.  Long-term? I’m not too sure.  Although there’s a pretty good Star Trek Next Gen movie where they encounter the Baku. The Baku age very slowly, and they’ve adapted to a slower life as well.  They choose to live in the moment. A person who weaves rugs for example first has like a 50 year apprenticeship.

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Posted: 21 June 2012 12:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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CuthbertJ - 21 June 2012 12:34 PM

Oh I think it’s here already. Look at the “Dick Cheney”...the LVAD.

A good example of why transhumanism is a really bad idea smile

On a serious note though i don’t see this as a good thing at all. We go through periods in our early life of great creativity and productivity and then settle down and coast for the most part. Our deaths as we get older and the births of new individuals rejuvenates society and leads to new ideas and inventions in science, art, music, and literature. I am not so sure that prolonging life, even if we prolong the quality would do anything to change that. People get bored, set in their ways, and run out of ideas. I really believe it is simply the natural evolution of a maturing human psyche rather than the result of an aging body.

Maturity has its advantages but it can be stagnating too. You don’t always get wiser with age. The one group that is most opposed to single sex marriages are the over 65 group. Imagine how quickly old social conventions like slavery and women’s rights ( lack of them) would have changed if we had a bunch of 500 year old senior citizens to deal with.

I find it hard to see any attempt to live 1,000 years as anything but a purely selfish quest at the expense of others.

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Posted: 21 June 2012 03:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Rather that trying to preserve our bodies, it would be much simpler to insert our complete mind’s contents into i-phone sized extreme power computers.  Now, a person 500 years from now could just go to his/her bookshelf, look over the stack of about 1,000 of these devices, decide to check on great-grand ma, pull out one of the stack, plug it in, talk with her for a minute, turn her off and stick the computer back in the stack. smile

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Posted: 21 June 2012 04:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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macgyver - 21 June 2012 12:56 PM

I find it hard to see any attempt to live 1,000 years as anything but a purely selfish quest at the expense of others.

That’s sort of what I was getting at when I raised the ethical flag. Things would have to change a great deal before significantly prolonging the human lifespan should even be considered.

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Posted: 21 June 2012 05:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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macgyver - 21 June 2012 12:56 PM
CuthbertJ - 21 June 2012 12:34 PM

Oh I think it’s here already. Look at the “Dick Cheney”...the LVAD.

A good example of why transhumanism is a really bad idea smile

On a serious note though i don’t see this as a good thing at all. We go through periods in our early life of great creativity and productivity and then settle down and coast for the most part. Our deaths as we get older and the births of new individuals rejuvenates society and leads to new ideas and inventions in science, art, music, and literature. I am not so sure that prolonging life, even if we prolong the quality would do anything to change that. People get bored, set in their ways, and run out of ideas. I really believe it is simply the natural evolution of a maturing human psyche rather than the result of an aging body.

Maturity has its advantages but it can be stagnating too. You don’t always get wiser with age. The one group that is most opposed to single sex marriages are the over 65 group. Imagine how quickly old social conventions like slavery and women’s rights ( lack of them) would have changed if we had a bunch of 500 year old senior citizens to deal with.

I find it hard to see any attempt to live 1,000 years as anything but a purely selfish quest at the expense of others.

Well, there might be some value in the knowledge one can accumulate and apply in that long of a lifetime. Maybe we can prevent history from repeating itself so much if we have people out there who can remember the distant past. Not to mention the technical skills someone can acquire in all that time. It would reduce the inefficiency of losing perfectly good brains to death and having to train new ones constantly.

As for overpopulation, I imagine reproduction could become passe among those with long lives anyway.

I’m not holding out for it, but I wouldn’t mind living a very long time.

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Posted: 22 June 2012 04:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Maturity has its advantages but it can be stagnating too. You don’t always get wiser with age. The one group that is most opposed to single sex marriages are the over 65 group. Imagine how quickly old social conventions like slavery and women’s rights ( lack of them) would have changed if we had a bunch of 500 year old senior citizens to deal with.

I think you are wrong, those ideas of, for example, gender equality and abolition of slavery, are not something new, they have been around in ancient times and are not an exclusive invention of young minds, even today we have systems which are worse than previous or possible models.
So it is not a fight between new and old, it is a question of majorities, so the only thing you could hope for is that the “dumb” people may die out, and i wouldn’t bet on that.
It could get even worse, the religious nuts could take over and turn the planet in a really ugly place, like Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan (1995-2001).
A new generation doesn’t equal a new age of enlightenment, evolution and success is not always on the side of the smartest, but of the fittest and that could also be a very dumb creature.

I find it hard to see any attempt to live 1,000 years as anything but a purely selfish quest at the expense of others.

 

At who’s expense?
The Children’s expense?
If we don’t even have children and live for 500 years who is suffering? A “new” Generation who does not even exist?
if we look at the whole thing that way it would be okay to kill older people at, lets say 65, so that younger generations may have a chance, or kill those who only generate costs.

And would someone who is working and earning money for centuries really live on someones expense?

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Posted: 22 June 2012 07:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Alexander80 - 22 June 2012 04:00 AM

Maturity has its advantages but it can be stagnating too. You don’t always get wiser with age. The one group that is most opposed to single sex marriages are the over 65 group. Imagine how quickly old social conventions like slavery and women’s rights ( lack of them) would have changed if we had a bunch of 500 year old senior citizens to deal with.

I think you are wrong, those ideas of, for example, gender equality and abolition of slavery, are not something new, they have been around in ancient times and are not an exclusive invention of young minds, even today we have systems which are worse than previous or possible models.
So it is not a fight between new and old, it is a question of majorities, so the only thing you could hope for is that the “dumb” people may die out, and i wouldn’t bet on that.
It could get even worse, the religious nuts could take over and turn the planet in a really ugly place, like Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan (1995-2001).
A new generation doesn’t equal a new age of enlightenment, evolution and success is not always on the side of the smartest, but of the fittest and that could also be a very dumb creature.

I still disagree with you on this. Ideas about slavery being wrong may have been around for along time but it took until the 18th century for anyone to actually do anything about it. Older generations did nothing to overturn long held traditions. Womens rights suffered for centuries. I am not saying that people who are centuries old might not eventually acquire the wisdom to see the errors of their ways but people by nature tend to become entrenched in their beliefs as they get older. Older Americans for example are much more likely to be Republican and the Republican party is extremely nostalgic and resistant to change especially when it comes to social issues.
A new generation may not be any smarter than the old one and absent some dramatic evolutionary pressure they will most likely have the same average intelligence as the prior one but social evolution does not require increasing intelligence. It does however require a certain willingness to let go of old ideas. Younger people are more likely to accept the idea that we dont have to do things a certain way just because thats the way they were always done before.

You are right that there is always the chance that things could get worse. Change always embodies some risk, but refusal to change entails the greater risk of stagnation of the human race.

Alexander80 - 22 June 2012 04:00 AM

I find it hard to see any attempt to live 1,000 years as anything but a purely selfish quest at the expense of others.

 

At who’s expense?
The Children’s expense?
If we don’t even have children and live for 500 years who is suffering? A “new” Generation who does not even exist?
if we look at the whole thing that way it would be okay to kill older people at, lets say 65, so that younger generations may have a chance, or kill those who only generate costs.

And would someone who is working and earning money for centuries really live on someones expense?

This is an interesting philosophical question. Its hard to defend the rights of people who are never conceived or born because in theory there is an infinite number of them and we can never bring them all into this world, but instinctually the idea of allowing existing humans to use extreme technological measures to hold on to life long beyond their natural life span seems repugnant on some level. Of course we do this already. Humans today already live longer than they did thousands of years ago, but how much is society willing to invest in resources to extend each life for centuries What if the cost of maintaining a 300 year old body is ten times what it cost to maintain a 50 year old one. There are a lot of questions that would need to be considered. A lot of it would depend on the nature and quality of this extended life. How many of those years would be productive? The nature of society plays a role too. As mentioned above technical skills like engineering, medicine, law etc require decades to acquire. It might be beneficial for society if we could get a hundred years return on that investment instead of 30-40 years, but what do you do with manual laborers who don’t require a lot of training and may be able to work a much smaller portion of their extended lifespan because of the physical nature of their work?

Keep in m ind that any advancement in human longevity is not going to occur the way it does in the movies. We are not going to have a single pill that simply stops the aging process throughout the body. It will come with small incremental advances that focus on individual systems and the progress will be very uneven. Aging affects different part of our bodies differently. Advancements that prolong the longevity of our hearts may do little or nothing to slow the wear and tear on our joints or the deterioration of the mind, or the loss of hearing, or slowing of reflexes. In all likelihood you will have people who will live longer but will be spending many more years living in a non-productive condition with some combination of disabilities. We already see this happening today. Extending lives to hundreds of years could worsen this situation dramatically

There are a lot of thorny questions here that would have to be answered if we are to avoid the serious societal and environmental consequences as a result of extended lifespans but society has an unfortunate habit of failing to face the issues until after the crisis is upon us.

This is obviously only my opinion, but to me, a world full of millenarians and very few young people sounds like a sad place to live.

[ Edited: 22 June 2012 07:51 PM by macgyver ]
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