Monday, February 16

Reaction to "When Man & Machine Merge"

I was killing time a couple of days ago and I came across a very interesting article in Rolling Stone. (I know its Rolling Stone, but I checked a couple of sources and this guy is a real scientist.) Anyway, this article was about scientist and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who say that through break troughs in science we (humans) will we able to live forever. He believes that thanks to nanobots, we will no longer be held captive by our physical bodies, but will be able to occupy different bodies and live indefinitely. In this process, nanobots would go into your body and begin to map your body, mind and DNA. Once this is done the information can be copied onto another body. I’m not sure how this is done, but I imagine it’s done through some sort of cloning process. Kurzweil describes this as updating your computer, once your hardware (body) is worn out, you can copy your software (mind) and install it onto new hardware (body).

When I was reading this I thought that this seemed really farfetched. Do you really think that human cloning will ever be allowed in the world, or even in the US? If it is, what kind of implication and new ethics will it bring the scientific community? The article also made me wonder if humans are supposed to live forever. I am not questioning it from a religious stand point, but from a population control standpoint. How many humans can this plant sustainably hold and if we live for hundreds of years, how many people could come to occupy this plant? I encourage all of you to read this article and look forward to hearing what everyone thinks about the implications of this technology.


  1. I have also heard of this type of nano-science and though it is farfetched I wouldn’t all together rule it out. This fellow has his beliefs firmly rooted in the transhumanist belief system, who think we ought to use technology and medical advancement to push the limits of human physiology to enhanced physical and mental states. But if you look at the direction medical science is heading, it seems like this type of advancement isn’t too far away. Once the kinks are worked out with stem cells we are going to see a whole arena of treatments available that we were previously never able to conceptualize. I agree that humans should not live forever and extending the average lifespan by 20 or 30 years could be catastrophic for the earth.
    Some of the folks who oppose this type of thinking call themselves bioconservative. They think that enhancing the human condition violates what it means to be human. I do think some of their articles are interesting and their arguments valid. It always seems to come from a religious basis that they certainly cannot disclose.

  2. I think Kurzweil envisions a future where ones consciousness could be placed in silica and wouldn't be necessarily be limited to a finite body. It could theoretically exist concurrently in many sort of like the Cylons from Battlestar Gallactica. If our consciousness could be placed on quantum computers we would have roughly 10 magnitudes the computing power we do now.

  3. I think that this technology is definitely an issue that will come up in the future; when to know when to stop! If humans were able to live forever, it would not only take away from what it means to be human but there would also be no meaning to life. Mortality, in my opinion, is a huge motivator for progress: without it... there would be none. In this case, although far fetched, the implications of the role of values in science is extremely important!


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