RE: life extension advocacy plans (fear of Tithonus) --> worrying about the brain

From: Reason (
Date: Fri Jul 06 2001 - 03:16:26 MDT

> >He thinks old people are a burden on society,
> >though, and is somewhat anti-life extension. Anyone
> >who could provide me with links/info to combat that
> >attitude, please do--he is incredibly intelligent
> Hmm. Funny, though, how even the incredibly intelligent seem unable to
> follow the simple logic beyond the current parlous transitional
> situation.
> *Nobody* wants to live to 120 if that means 40 years as a vegetable, or
> slow physical and mental decay. The goal of life extension is *drastic
> cellular repair and maintenance*, in the first instance, and *enhancement*
> as a likely next step from there.
> It's like moaning, `Oh, what's the point of being cryonically preserved
> after death? You'll never be able to move or talk again, all frozen stiff
> like that!' Biostasis is intended a temporary condition, obviously. And
> current life extension methods, primitive as they are, should be regarded
> as a way to hang on (`like grim death', as they say) until genomics,
> proteomics and/or nanotech yield methods for (1) stalling and then
> repairing existing damage, and (2) maintaining [regained] youthful health
> perpetually, or until a better option comes along (such as, for example,
> uploading into a more fluent body or life-space).

The (long, FAQ-like) front page of has a very good,
short, punchy take on this (um..., I
think). Ideal for presenting as an argument to those not already in the

> The fear of Tithonus, who in myth grew ever older and more feeble, to his
> terrified despair, is a rudimentary failure of imagination. We'll get past
> it, just as we got over the fear of Icarus.
> (See Dr Chris Lawson's essay `The Tithonus Option is Not an Option' at
> )

Good stuff. Can anyone point me to other essays on the same specific
topic -- the widespread myth/belief in new forms of longevity translating to
increasing enfeeblement with increasing age?

I always used to worry about my brain, back in the day. Well, worry about it
degrading (as opposed to any of the other myriad things that are no doubt
wrong with it) even if various scenarios fixed the rest of the body. Five
years ago, I was pondering timelines for nanotech replacement of living
neurons with artificial neurons and whether that could happen before you
couldn't think anymore.

So, since it's on my mind again: how fast and in what sized portions can you
replace parts of your living brain with artificial neurons and not have
discovered an extremely novel and expensive way of killing yourself? Take
out half the brain, destructively copy it, put the copy back in -- sounds
like killing yourself to me. You'll have left a copy behind, but the
essential you is dead. One neuron per minute sounds reasonable. It's an
interesting thing to think about -- how much of a system can you replace at
once with having been said to have destroyed the original system?


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