den Otter (
Fri, 20 Feb 1998 21:05:23 +0100

> From: Peter James <>

> I wanted to make the point that immortality through science will happen
> whether we like it or not,and to make people realise that yet another
> development in science for which we are totally unprepared, is only just
> around the corner. Science constantly gallops ahead of our ability to
> comprehend the issues it raises. In Host, the scientist, Dr Joe Messenger
> is determined to replicate human consciousness in a computer, with the
> ultimate aim of humans being able to download (or upload...) their brains
> into it and live on either in a virtual state, and ultimately be uploaded
> back into new biological bodies.
> However, without giving too much of the story away (although the film
> ending is very different) although he achieves his aim, he is concerned
> that the human race is not yet ready to live forever. I don't think this
> is so very different from Darwin holding back his theory of natural
> selection for thirty years, or from Einstein's quandry about helping to
> develop the bomb. Surely it is a good thing for writers to create
> characters who do have a moral consciences. Joe Messenger is a decent guy.
> He realises he has achieved something that is too big a step for humans
> right now.
Is it? Of all possible discoveries, "immortality" must be about the *least*
threatening one. People just stop dying of old age. That's hardly going to
bring about the end of civilization, IMO. On the contrary, life might start
to get valued some more once death is no longer an absolute certainty.
I don't think it would be moral to withhold such an important invention, but
rather extremely *immoral* because millions of lives are lost in the "waiting
period", only because the scientist(s) in question *assume(s)* (in his/their
limited wisdom) that others are too stupid to deal with extended
lifespans. Personally, I'd rather risk suffering and death as a result of
my own decisions, than to be coerced "for my own good". In the case
of immortality the choice is easy...let's have it NOW! :)

> Surely this what writers should be doing? Examing the issues
> of our times?
I agree, but they can also help to shape history by presenting important
technologies in a very *positive* way (like Jim Halperin does with cryonics
in The First Immortal) instead of the usual doom & gloom moral high horse