Re: Picking horses (was Re: Why are we allowed to age?)

Michael Butler (
Thu, 12 Jun 1997 12:43:07 -0700 (PDT)

On Thu, 12 Jun 1997, I William Wiser wrote:
> I know it sounds like a kludge but I think in the short term
> preserving and augmenting the brain by a combination of understanding
> (neuronal processes and neuronal aging), pharmacy, gene therapy,
> and partial replacement with computer circuits will buy time until
> complete brain replacement is possible. Some simple nanotech could
> help a lot here but I don't think it is required.

It only sounds like a kludge if you have no wisdom. :) "Primum non
nocere" (first do no harm); don't fix it if it ain't broke; the 80-20
rule; "if you don't understand it, don't rip it apart".

Evo-bio is messy. Top-down design is hard. Leaving things out is risky
(that is, there is identifiable risk associated with any editing process,
especially *deletion*--and one of the big risks is deleting something you
didn't understand).

> Now I feel the main thing to be done is to understand the aging
> brain, figure out how to keep it alive, and improve it's functioning.
> This is a more conservative approach. I see this as the number
> one problem we face and until I really understand what is the
> minimum requirement to solve the problem of brain aging I am not
> willing to assume it will be easy or hard and I am not willing to
> skip ahead.

My current emphasis is on trying to understand human group and power
psychology, so I can make maximum impact on creating a world that
1) I'd want to come back to and
2) wouldn't mind bringing me back.

I see that, not as the number one problem we face (there are a lot of
number ones), but as the one where I can make the biggest difference. Our
goals are parallel; a "rope" approach beats a "chain" approach if the path
is uncertain.

> > For me all of this is just conceptual for a while. My
own > current idea is to do as much as I can to take advantage of the
> technologies, skills, etc. currently available to keep me alive
> and functioning at my best, and to help others do the same.


> I think this makes sense for anyone who has not already done it
> because I don't know how long the big stuff will take, because
> it is comparatively easy (it lets me do something I can make
> progress at in a time frame my mind can grasp), and it will help
> me be more capable of progress on the big stuff when I get there.

Double-plus affirmative. Do what you know how to do, then look at the
problem again. :)