Recreating people [was: renaissance people]

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sun May 14 2000 - 12:52:08 MDT

I had discusssed the problem of whether it will be feasible to know
the difference between A(recreated)-humans vs. and the decorporealized

On Sat, 13 May 2000, Steve wrote:

> Melzack's Neuromatrix theory of self seems to adequately explain this point.
I didn't understand the reference, so I went looking:

> { Melzack's neuromatrix theory of phantom limb[1] claims that body experience
> is genetic; he says, for example, that 'the neural network that underlies the
> experience of one's physical self is genetically determined'. This assertion
> is based upon two studies carried out 30 years ago[2-4 ]which claim 'that a
> substantial number of children who are born without all or part of a limb
> feel a valid phantom of the missing part'. Close scrutiny reveals that
> these studies have methodological shortcomings. }

[1] Melzack, R. (1990) Trends Neurosci. 13, 88-92.
[2] Poeck, K. (1964) Cortex 1, 267-275
[3] Weinstein, S. and Sersen, E. A. (1964) Cortex 1, 276-290
[4] Weinstein, S. and Sersen, E. A. (1951) Neurology 11, 905-911

I must admit I still don't really see the connection. Perhaps there is
something I'm missing about the neuromatrix theory.

If you are suggesting that an A-human cannot effectively be the original,
because there is no underlying genetic material, then I'd suggest you are
treading on thin ice. The neural matrix (hardware) is so similar among most
humans that we should understand the basic wiring and the effects of specific
polymorphisms enough to be able to simulate much of it quite accurately
within 15-20 years. I'll take the Turing approach here that if looks
like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck then from my perceptual
standpoint, it *is* a duck.

In Sasha's case there would seem to be a fighting chance that there is enough
original material around to provide a plausibly realistic simulation.
This may be aided by the fact that the individuals are still available
from which much of his personal genetic makeup could be determined.

In contrast millions of individuals die each year leaving behind
nothing more than fading memories in the people they knew.
I feel sad for their loss.

The cloning debates now will pale in comparison to the geno-reconstruction
debates of the future. [I'm not assuming that geno-reconstruction will
be able to reproduce the mind of an individual, but that geno-reconstruction
will allow a computer to produce a more accurate simulation if sufficient
material regarding the person's life, opinions, thoughts, etc. is available.]

So, for those individuals who can't quite convince their parents or loved
ones that lifespan extension, cryonics, etc is "real", you can do an "end-run"
around their lack of foresight. Sit down with them with a video camera
and get them to tell lots of stories about their life. "Interview" them
for their not-yet-born family so they will be able to "know" who Great-Grandma
or Great-Grandpa was. Get your cells and those of more enlightened family
members frozen someplace (there are several organizations I believe that now
do this). If you can, request or even covertly harvest some of their cells
(e.g. offer to vacuum the house then get the contents of the bag frozen),
or clean off the individual's hairbrush.... Not guaranteed, but better
than nothing. Best would be to get them to arrange to have a vial of blood
shipped to a cold-storage facility the next time they get a physical checkup
and blood is being taken for routine lab workups.

It is worth thinking about this as a "group" activity at Extro5.
Certainly a news-worthy and thought provoking activity to have hundreds
of individuals interacting with each other with a goal of providing
enough "bits" (that can be stored in multiple places) that they can
plausibly be recreated or even recorporealized from such information,
should an unforeseen or unavoidable accident occur.

I can see the list in 30 years -- "Ok, will everybody please look
at the Burch v.14 recreation and see if his desire for fast
cars is tuned correctly?"


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