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The Ethics of Reviving the Long Dead
Posted: 05 July 2012 09:31 PM   [ Ignore ]
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If Ray Kurzweil is to be believed, then in just a few short decades, we’ll have the necessary technology to revive ice mummies like this Incan girl found back in 1999.  While (I think) it would be impossible to repair her memories completely, her brain would be healthy and any memories she retained, would be invaluable for understanding about her time.

The real question is: Should we do it?  In the case of the Incan girl, and the other children sacrificed with her, they were taken up to the mountain and killed so that they could be with the gods and watch over their local village from the mountain top.  So in reviving her, you’d be taking her from “heaven” and putting her in a world far beyond her comprehension.  Yet, let’s face it, she was a child, killed by a superstitious people for reasons that can only be described as BS, bringing her back would be reversing an injustice that happened centuries ago, and would provide us invaluable insights to a culture we know little about.

So what say you?  Should we do it?  Or should we just leave them be?

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Posted: 05 July 2012 09:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’m not sure I recall Kurzweil ever promoting such an idea or how feasible it might actually be, even with advanced future technology. Nonetheless I understand Kurzweil’s models upon which he makes his predictions and consider them quite valid and convincing. Thus there may be aspects and technology I’m not yet currently aware of that would make this claim indeed possible.

To answer the OP’s actual question, I would support bringing her back to life if we had reasonable grounds to believe it would be possible to do so with little or no negative repercussions, in the context of physical and mental health.

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Posted: 05 July 2012 10:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Robert Walper - 05 July 2012 09:46 PM

I’m not sure I recall Kurzweil ever promoting such an idea or how feasible it might actually be, even with advanced future technology. Nonetheless I understand Kurzweil’s models upon which he makes his predictions and consider them quite valid and convincing. Thus there may be aspects and technology I’m not yet currently aware of that would make this claim indeed possible.

Kurzweil’s never said it, but if what he projects about technology is accurate, then it will, indeed, be possible.  Kurzweil has some interesting ideas, but doesn’t seem to grasp many of the implications of the technology he describes.

For example, his solution to people having incredibly powerful computers implanted in their heads, which give them the ability to work out, if they wanted to, how to build WMDs, is to require everyone to submit to a government brain scan once a year.  This is a really bad idea.  If for no other reason than it provides those in power with the ability to know what they have to say to get the public to re-elect them come election time.  I know that he’ll argue the government will put in place “safeguards” to prevent that from happening, but if Sony can spend a $1 billion on the “ultimate copyprotection software” only to have it be defeated by a Sharpie marker, I have little faith that any safeguards put in place by the government to keep unscrupulous politicians from gaining access to the data will be very effective.  Heck, they can’t even prevent government employees from snooping in the passport records of political candidates!

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Posted: 05 July 2012 10:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Coldheart Tucker - 05 July 2012 10:02 PM

For example, his solution to people having incredibly powerful computers implanted in their heads, which give them the ability to work out, if they wanted to, how to build WMDs, is to require everyone to submit to a government brain scan once a year.

Can you provide a quote along with the text in context whereas you’re claiming he stated this solution? I’ve bought and read his ‘The Singularity Is Near’ book, and read nothing like that.

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Posted: 05 July 2012 10:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Robert Walper - 05 July 2012 10:18 PM
Coldheart Tucker - 05 July 2012 10:02 PM

For example, his solution to people having incredibly powerful computers implanted in their heads, which give them the ability to work out, if they wanted to, how to build WMDs, is to require everyone to submit to a government brain scan once a year.

Can you provide a quote along with the text in context whereas you’re claiming he stated this solution? I’ve bought and read his ‘The Singularity Is Near’ book, and read nothing like that.

I listened to it on audio, and it most certainly is in there.  And I’m sorry, but I am not going to relisten to the book to try and find where that is. The narrator for the audio version is absolutely atrocious (as the numerous reviews on Audible.com will attest), and its sheer torture to make one’s way through the book more than once that way.  Its in the chapter where he talks about some of the downsides of technology, and another one of his suggestions is to simply not make the information about how such things are made readily available in scientific journals or on the internet.  That idea failed utterly in the recent case where scientists mutated a flu-strain so it could easily be transmitted by ferrets.

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Posted: 05 July 2012 10:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Coldheart Tucker - 05 July 2012 09:31 PM

If Ray Kurzweil is to be believed, then in just a few short decades, we’ll have the necessary technology to revive ice mummies like this Incan girl found back in 1999.  While (I think) it would be impossible to repair her memories completely, her brain would be healthy and any memories she retained, would be invaluable for understanding about her time.

The real question is: Should we do it?  In the case of the Incan girl, and the other children sacrificed with her, they were taken up to the mountain and killed so that they could be with the gods and watch over their local village from the mountain top.  So in reviving her, you’d be taking her from “heaven” and putting her in a world far beyond her comprehension.  Yet, let’s face it, she was a child, killed by a superstitious people for reasons that can only be described as BS, bringing her back would be reversing an injustice that happened centuries ago, and would provide us invaluable insights to a culture we know little about.

So what say you?  Should we do it?  Or should we just leave them be?

From a straight out scientific point of view, it would be awesome.  If it actually became possible, I think it would be inevitable that someone would do it.  IMO, someone would have to be willing to kill the re animated if need be, though.

Ethically, same as above.

I don’t think it will ever happen though.

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Posted: 05 July 2012 10:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Coldheart Tucker - 05 July 2012 10:26 PM

I listened to it on audio, and it most certainly is in there.  And I’m sorry, but I am not going to relisten to the book to try and find where that is. The narrator for the audio version is absolutely atrocious (as the numerous reviews on Audible.com will attest), and its sheer torture to make one’s way through the book more than once that way.  Its in the chapter where he talks about some of the downsides of technology, and another one of his suggestions is to simply not make the information about how such things are made readily available in scientific journals or on the internet.  That idea failed utterly in the recent case where scientists mutated a flu-strain so it could easily be transmitted by ferrets.

Given you’re claiming Kurzweil suggests suppressing the information, I strongly question your source or memory of the audio version. I’ve read his book, more than once, and he makes no such suggestion and correctly states any such attempt is doomed to failure. Technology is making the suppression of information concept a joke and Kurzweil knows this.

What he does suggest is creating rapid response teams to deal with things like, for example, growing threats of biological attacks as technology and information becomes vastly more accessible and available to everyone.

To use his own analogy, he knows you cannot prevent the creation of viruses spread throughout the internet. But rapid, widespread response systems in place to counteract them is enormously successful, as the existence and stability of the internet demostrates handily.

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Posted: 05 July 2012 11:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Robert Walper - 05 July 2012 10:40 PM
Coldheart Tucker - 05 July 2012 10:26 PM

I listened to it on audio, and it most certainly is in there.  And I’m sorry, but I am not going to relisten to the book to try and find where that is. The narrator for the audio version is absolutely atrocious (as the numerous reviews on Audible.com will attest), and its sheer torture to make one’s way through the book more than once that way.  Its in the chapter where he talks about some of the downsides of technology, and another one of his suggestions is to simply not make the information about how such things are made readily available in scientific journals or on the internet.  That idea failed utterly in the recent case where scientists mutated a flu-strain so it could easily be transmitted by ferrets.

Given you’re claiming Kurzweil suggests suppressing the information, I strongly question your source or memory of the audio version. I’ve read his book, more than once, and he makes no such suggestion and correctly states any such attempt is doomed to failure. Technology is making the suppression of information concept a joke and Kurzweil knows this.

What he does suggest is creating rapid response teams to deal with things like, for example, growing threats of biological attacks as technology and information becomes vastly more accessible and available to everyone.

To use his own analogy, he knows you cannot prevent the creation of viruses spread throughout the internet. But rapid, widespread response systems in place to counteract them is enormously successful, as the existence and stability of the internet demostrates handily.

Which edition of the book did you read?  There are several editions, as I understand.  And, he doesn’t use the term “suppression” at all.  He merely states that they would agree to not publish it on the internet.  I’ll also note that this was the plan of the CDC (which he has worked with) in the case of the bird-flu made transmissible in ferrets.  The government’s plan was to withhold information on how it was done, and the scientific community protested.  I don’t recall Kurzweil claiming the government was foolish for having such plans.  Do you?

Kurzweil is rather contradictory in many of his statements in the book.  He refuses to come right out and state if he believes in a supreme being, but strongly hints that he thinks that the universe specifically created us to be the consciousness of the universe and that no other intelligent species exist in the universe.  If you search around here, there’s a thread where I discuss a few of the flaws of his ideas, while agreeing with his statements about the general thrust technology is going.

[ Edited: 05 July 2012 11:06 PM by Coldheart Tucker ]
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Posted: 06 July 2012 08:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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If Ray Kurzweil is to be believed, then in just a few short decades, we’ll have the necessary technology to revive ice mummies like this Incan girl found back in 1999.

And just what would he be reviving and how? Superficially, the mummy in the National Geographic article is phenomonally well preserved, but the freezing of the remains would have done a substantial amount of damage to the cells.

I’ll conceed for the sake of arguement that it may be possible to re-animate in the future, but I think all that would be waking up would be a newborn blank slate with the body of a teenager. The person which she was would be long gone.

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Posted: 06 July 2012 08:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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If I remember right, in this book http://www.amazon.com/Radical-Evolution-Promise-Enhancing-Bodies/dp/0767915038/ref=la_B000AQ757A_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1341588547&sr=1-1  Kurzweil gave an interview where he explained that his father died young, and he expects to “bring him back” eventually.

If so, then Kurzweil is likely speaking more from emotion than reason about this topic.

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Posted: 06 July 2012 10:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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After they succeed at least once I would consider the ethics.  Until then they will probably learn a lot trying so I would say go for it.

psik

[ Edited: 06 July 2012 10:30 AM by psikeyhackr ]
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Posted: 06 July 2012 05:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Just a few minutes without CNS blood flow and oxygen pretty well wipes out the brain.  Unless the Incas flash froze the girl in liquid nitrogen while she was still alive, I seriously doubt that you’d get a thinking being.  I don’t know about the rest of the body’s cells, but I’d also guess that even if the child could be revived, she’d be dead again very shortly.

However, Macgyver would probably be able to give a much more authoritive analysis and answer.

Occam

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Posted: 06 July 2012 06:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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When I first opened this up, I misread it as “The Ethics of Reviving the Long Thread.” I thought it was about the newest 911 conspiracy thread. I just wanted to go on record as being totally against reviving long dead threads. That is all.  cheese

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Posted: 06 July 2012 06:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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mid atlantic - 06 July 2012 08:34 AM

Kurzweil gave an interview where he explained that his father died young, and he expects to “bring him back” eventually.

If so, then Kurzweil is likely speaking more from emotion than reason about this topic.

Not true. When Kurzweil talks about ‘bringing back his father’, I admit to cringing on his behalf. Because I know how it sounds to those not quite understanding what he is talking about, and I do know what he is talking about.

When he says he wants to ‘bring his father back’, he’s referring to a sum total of many technologies that would, for any practical purpose, bring his father back for him. Kurzweil has a large library of information and personal effects from his father as source material. He’s invoking the idea of future technologies like memory recall enhancements, brain computer interfaces, virtual realities indistinguishable from the ‘real’ world and the sum of all those creating a persona and character that would be indistinguishable to Kurzweil from his past, ‘real’ father.

It would be little different from those who have lost loved ones and ‘found’ them again in dreams. Except with benefits of technology, the ‘dream’ would be a waking version far greater in depth, perception and emotion. In fact such activities would be done by countless people, and there will no doubt be many philosophical debates on whether the newly created ‘beings’ (for lack of a better term/concept) qualify as the real person who was lost in the past.

It’s little wonder Kurzweil feels lonely as a Singularitarian when he talks about such subjects and people look at him like he’s crazy.

[ Edited: 06 July 2012 06:52 PM by Robert Walper ]
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Posted: 06 July 2012 07:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Occam. - 06 July 2012 05:52 PM

Just a few minutes without CNS blood flow and oxygen pretty well wipes out the brain.  Unless the Incas flash froze the girl in liquid nitrogen while she was still alive, I seriously doubt that you’d get a thinking being.  I don’t know about the rest of the body’s cells, but I’d also guess that even if the child could be revived, she’d be dead again very shortly.

However, Macgyver would probably be able to give a much more authoritive analysis and answer.

Occam

The saying in the medical community about finding someone frozen is that you’re not dead until you’re warm and dead.  People have been revived after being in freezing water for 30 minutes or more, with little brain damage.  Doctors routinely drop a patient’s body temperature down to almost freezing during surgery to protect the brain from blood loss.

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Posted: 06 July 2012 09:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Somehow this whole thing sounds far fetched to me.  All I have to say is, “I’m from the Show Me state.  I’ll believe it when I see it.”

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