Re: Genetic transition to posthumanism

From: Eugene Leitl (
Date: Fri Apr 27 2001 - 08:06:05 MDT

On Fri, 27 Apr 2001, John Marlow wrote:

> This seems a certainty. A comprehensive nanotech by definition

Does it? I don't remember Anders talking about comprehensive nanotech,
whatever that means.

> includes "instant" genetic engineering; when you can deal with the
> atoms, dealing with larger-scale DNA becomes largely pointless. Cells

Even if you can do accurate mechanosynthesis on 100 kg scale, it doesn't
mean you can do it in vivo. In fact the only way I see viable
mechanosynthetic manipulation of biological tissue, is around absolute
zero. Frozen rock solid is not exactly in vivo, and opens a major can of
worms on its own (you have to insert/retract fractal heat exchanger
infrastructure, and the thermal descend/ascend is rather damaging even
with cryoprotectants).

> which endlessly repair themselves (or are endlessly repaired by
> nannites) should be immortal--as should the bodies they comprise.

It's nanites. You can't have atomic-precision repair in vivo, with the
possible exception of DNA. It would be easier to operate on molecular
units (exchanging a protein, or a few lipids gone sour), imported from
compartments, or a transport network into the body from external sources.
Also remember that these nanorobot things are rather large themselves
(cubic micron or so) and have an energetic metabolism of their own.
They're not interactionless ghosts, think rather large bricks plowing
through the tissue.

Medical nanotechnology is much, much harder than just machine phase
nanotechnology (which in itself is harder than self-assembly
nanotechnology, which we're going to get first, anyway, despite the
wonderful progress in graphene manipulation). Paradoxically, it is
probably easier to scan you in a single batch, and rebuild you as a
computational model. You can even do it with molecular crystal
self-assembly computronium and MEMS for the scanning stage. There will be
a race between ALife AI and humans anyway, so it would seem risky to
remain a flesh puppet for too long.

> Problem areas: Changes we do not understand the purpose of. Instantly
> resetting those age-related changes (within the brain, for example)
> to youthful norms could do serious damage (presumably cognitive).
> Making a backup copy beforehand, however, should obviate even this
> problem and permit experimentation.

Making a backup copy is much easier if you're an information pattern

> All other paths are stopgaps on the road to nanotech--which obsoletes
> all technologies. If cyborging occurs at that point, it will be

Rather the opposite: nano is a big enabler of existing tech, and
facilitates creation of new ones.

> accomplished by means of nt, and done to convey advantages
> unattainable via purely organic upgrades. Memory storage capacity is
> one presumed example. It's also possible some persons will choose to
> inhabit cyborged or completely artificial bodies for reasons other
> than necessity. Again, these bodies will be constructed via nt.

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