Re: A request for a repost from Anders, was Re: extropians-digest V6 #1

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Wed Jan 03 2001 - 08:54:00 MST

"Michael M. Butler" <> writes:

> I am not opposed to doing anything that works. Anders Sandberg (are you
> there, Anders?) wrote a GREAT fable about DNA therapy as a variation on
> Sleeping Beauty. Time for a re-post, maybe?

A Transhuman Fairy Tale

by Anders Sandberg

Once upon a time in a land far, far away there lived a king and
queen. Their highest wish was to have a child, but for many years the
queen had remained childless. One day one of her ladies-in-waiting
came to her and told her about the fairy godmothers of biotechnology,
who were said to be able to help childless mothers using their magic
spells. The royal couple visited the glass and steel castle of the
godmothers, and a few months later the queen bore a child.

The happy parents invited all the fairy godmothers to a great
celebration in their castle. After a splendid dinner where the court
held long eulogies over the skill and power of the godmothers, they
gathered around the young princess and began to tell the parents about
what they had given their daughter: genes for good health,
intelligence, beauty, slimness and a predisposition for a charming

The godmothers were just telling about the wonderful genetic switches
they had inserted so that the princess could for herself activate some
of the clever spells in her body when the thirteenth godmother burst
into the castle. The court had failed to invite her due to a computer
error, and she was furious. She pointed at the princess and told the
others that it was she who had created the genetic switch that
controlled the telomerase production; without it the princess would
develop cancer due to an inherited predisposition and die. With an
evil laugh the evil godmother ripped the optic disc containing the
sequence for the controlling protein into pieces and vanished in her
black porsche.

The godmothers explained to the horrified parents that there was
nothing they could do; discovering how to unlock the switch would
require unravelling the entire genome of the princess and solving the
generalised protein structure problem, and even the spells of the
godmothers could not change all her DNA once she was born. But the
twelfth and youngest godmother, who so far had kept silent since she
was just a research intern, spoke up. She told the parents that she
had inserted a few amphibian genes "just in case": if the princess
ever got too sick they would begin to produce carbohydrates and
proteins enabling a cryonic suspension. She would lie frozen until
future technology could revive her.

Several years went by and the princess grew up into a lovely young
woman just as intelligent, beautiful, creative and healthy as the
godmothers had predicted. Her father, still fearful of the curse of
the thirteenth godmother, had ordered the court to only serve healthy
food rich in antioxidants and low in calories, eat nutrient
supplements developed by the godmothers and forbidden smoking in the
entire kingdom.

One day when the princess was alone in the castle she went exploring;
in one of the towers she found an old library, not changed since the
19th century when its illustrious owner had died. On the desk she
found a humidor, containing strangely smelling cylinders. Her mentor
AI told her it was a cigar, a drug that had once been widely used in
the kingdom. Curious and unaware of the risks she tried smoking it --
and developed lung cancer.

The saddened court and the godmothers could not do anything to stop
the cancer from growing metastases, and finally they had to
cryonically suspend the princess (although being rulers over their own
kingdom, the parents could change the law so that she could be
suspended well before legal death) and placed her in a capsule in an
earthquake-proof bunker. Over the years a great hedge of thorns grew
up around the bunker, a biodefense designed by the thirteenth
godmother to make sure the princess was forgotten forever. And there
she lay for one hundred years.

One day a transhuman passed by through the local nets, and found a
reference to the old story about the frozen princess. He found the
thorn-hedge, and broke through it using his disassembler nanites --
the spells of the godmother was far from cutting edge now. He entered
the silent and cold bunker, finding the capsule of the princess
covered with a thick layer of frost and dust; through the translucent
cover he could make out some vague contours filling him with deep
longing. He opened it (not minding the liquid nitrogen that poured out
since his body was covered by protective utility fog) and kissed her
with lifegiving nanites that began cell repair. She opened her eyes,
and fell in love with the handsome transhuman. He carried her away
from the bunker, and they lived happily ever after -- since the
twelfth godmother had perfected life extension therapy in the

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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