New bodies [was Re: Study: Gene Therapy Restores Cells]

Robert J. Bradbury (
Wed, 15 Sep 1999 13:26:38 -0700 (PDT)

On Wed, 15 Sep 1999, J. R. Molloy wrote:

> From: Anders Sandberg <>
> >I think so, you will need a lot of axonal regrowth and putting these
> >cells in the areas you want the axons to grow to is a good start.
> It sounds like it would also (help to) heal post-op cerebral cortex damage,
> allowing complete restoration of the CNS. How long before a whole body
> transplant, and how much better than cryonics?
Before you go to far down this road you are going to have to solve the problem of *Where* do you get the body? The only two options I forsee are
(a) The bodies of brain dead individuals who are donating organs.

(b) Bodies grown in a vat (which at current growth rates takes

      ~15 years to get an adult sized body) and made anencephalic
      very early on in the process with clever trickery to keep the
      body developing.

To my way of thinking, unless the people in (a) are "fully" informed, i.e., they know about cryonics, reanimation, etc. and have intentionally chosen to be allowed to die and donate their body, it would be morally questionable for people on this list who have such knowledge to take advantage of others lack thereof. By not informing them of the options you are creating a situation in which you can take advantage of their ignorance. [said with flame retardant goo smeared all over my body...]

Now, looking at (b), people should carefully go review the pointers for the recently posted articles regarding Ventner's rationale for holding off on creating an artificial bacteria until he got the ethicists to bless it. You should note the carefully worded comments made regarding the Catholic Church's position, in that so long as we didn't try to create people (which is "God's" domain), it would be ok.

As soon as you try to grow a human in a vat (brain or no brain) I would predict you are going to have people condeming it left and right. That whole area will make the GM food debate look like a walk in the park. We (extropian/transhumanists) may think these things are fine but others do not. One thing I don't know is how the whole research on human embryo's has settled out in various countries. In the U.S. we are balanced right on the edge but I think in England it is outlawed. The policies with regard to human embryo research are going to be a strong indication how political bodies will fall on the anencephalic bodies.

Now, the end run around this will be "artificial genomes". When we get to the point where we can take the human genome, compress it into the minimal set required to produce a body, leave out all of the brain genes, *then* the discussion about brain transplants is useful. But I suspect by that time, we will also be able to grow all the organs you want, perhaps even "in you", so there will be much less need or point for new bodies. Now, how the ethicists, etc. will react to artificial human derived genomes is going to be an interesting question.