Re: Two questions

Michael S. Lorrey (
Mon, 19 Apr 1999 01:03:15 -0400

O'Regan, Emlyn wrote:
> Two questions, for all those who like a debate:
> 1: In some sense humans have been augmented since the first person
> belted someone about the chops with a bit of bone, some hundreds of
> thousands of years ago. Ever since then, we rely on our civilisation and
> our technology to achieve what we do, and to be who we are. We are not
> the same people without it.
> Given this (doesn't that come easily!), what is transhumanism? How is a
> transhuman not merely a human (albeit further augmented). I suspect that
> the impulses that drive us technologically forward, and which are
> particularly pronounced in the posts to the Extropians list, to use
> technology to make magic, are entirely human, and will remain no-matter
> what we do to ourselves in the future.

I know of what you speak here. The debate on the Singularity that occurred here several months ago, that you can read at extropy online, covered quite a bit of that.

> 2: Some people seem to have an idea that life-extension will propagate
> out to everybody, regardless of colour or creed, or the size of his/her
> bank account. Please justify this! Life extension seems particularly
> prone to being a haven for the wealthy, as I see it, because it is bound
> to be expensive for a long time. Actually, I find that I can't justify
> that statement, so please shoot it down.

  1. cryonic suspension is affordable today to college students, and the amount they pay now as part of insurance plans pays for their eventual revival, so that part of life extension we know for a fact is affordable to the average person today.
  2. we are getting the handle on actual immortality with things like the telomere research that is ongoing. Once a cure for old age is developed, it will be a matter of getting injected with a designed and bred virus or a cocktail of viruses that will do the genetic modifications you need to become immortal. The cost will only be in the R&D needed to attain that ability, which any nation is free to subsidize as they see fit. The major savings that a government can see with giving immortality to everyone (real immortality with forever young bodies), is that they no longer need to justify the funding of social security, medicaid, and medicare plans (as we call them here), and nationalized health care systems will see reduced costs as well leading to a reduction in the tax burden on working people (actually, since people will be immortal, they will be able to work if they want to forever, so the tax burden will also be spread around more). Note that the last five years of your life (old age) consumes more medical resources than the rest of your life combined, on average.

> I am not a good faithful believer in capitalism, and I've never been
> very interested in making money for its own sake. Now I'm thinking that
> accumulating wealth may actually be incredibly important, if I'm going
> to live for some ridiculous span of time (and I am, you know).

Fortunately, with capitalism, you can take advantage of high interest earnings of growth industries to fund retirement at whatever level you wish to attain.

> Does anyone think I'll be getting life-extension under government health
> cover?

I think that the government in many countries will probably only offer to pay for it for someone who agrees to be sterilized, as a means of population growth control. This is the primary threat to popular use of immortality technology, is that the powers that be (any every tree hugger you see) will jump to the conclusion that we will have immediate overpopulation as a result...

Mike Lorrey