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Deathist Humanism is So "Retro"! Mark Plus
Survival and Continuity, the Present-moment Self Brook Norton
Identity Peter Merel
Looking Back At the 21st Century Yvan Bozzonetti
Multiverse Yvan Bozzonetti
Can Cryopreservation Solve "The Abortion Problem"? Thomas Gramstad
How Far in the Future is Immortality? Kirk Israel
Information Conservation George Smith
The 28th Update on My Fly Longevity Experiments Douglas Skrecky
The 30th Update on My Fly Longevity Experiments Douglas Skrecky
As Others See Us New Hope International
Opinions are the authors' own. No professional advice is intended. If you wish others to be legally responsible for your health, life or finances, then please consult a professional regulated according to the laws of your country.
Volume 13 no 79. First published September 2000. ISSN 0964-5659.
Jurisdiction for Autopsy
by Wayne Logsdon < firstname.lastname@example.org >
In my state, if the patient has been in a hospital for over 48 hours, the medical examiner loses jurisdiction and no one can mutilate your loved one without written permission by the person with the highest standing in the eyes of the law. That would be a spouse, or if there was none, or they were mentally incapacitated, a guardian, child, etc. The "next of kin" absolutely can refuse it in the U.S.
If it is done anyway the "next of kin" and maybe others, have grounds for a major lawsuit. There was a news story about a year ago where the husband dies in a hospital, and the wife refused written permission for an autopsy. A month or two later the wife gets a thank you letter from an "eye bank" association thanking her for her husband's corneas. She sued and got a couple of million dollars.
Even if a person dies before they are in a hospital over 48 hours, or not in a hospital at all, the next of kin or a "friend" (in most states) can object to the autopsy. This objection usually means the medical examiner has to wait (48 hours in my state) while the objector petitions the court for an order to disallow the dissection.
This is usually done as a motion, and the motion costs about $15.00 (plus the attorney fees if you don't do it yourself). In some states you must object on religious grounds (just say "I object on religious grounds"). In some states you can object on grounds of conscience. If you are not sure about the state law where the death occurred use the religious grounds statement; it covers both.
Go to the Cornell Legal Information Institute web site and search the statutes in your state. Use keywords like autopsy, medical , medical examiner, coroner, dissection, etc. If you want to dig deeper, after you find pertinent statutes, go to a library that has the statute books and look them up there. Following each statute are cites of court cases related to that statute. Many states have lesser laws called administrative codes which also must be obeyed. The references under the statutes will reference these. You will not find these references or administrative codes on the web.
If medical examiners don't follow the law they may be denying you constitution rights like equal protection, due process, freedom of religion, etc. At the Cornell site you should also check out the Federal Statutes Title 42 sections 1983, 1985 and 1986. These are the ones to use to sue when government officials violate your constitutional rights (State or U.S.). Federal Title 18 sections 241 and 242 are for the same purposes, but for filing criminal charges with the FBI, or with local, county or state officials.
I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice.
If you can get on the Internet, got to http://www.autopsychoice.com
and cast your vote on the issues raised there.
When there are thousands of votes cast, maybe the authorities will take notice.
Deathist Humanism is So "Retro"!
by Mark Plus <email@example.com>
Given discussions about religion, afterlife beliefs and openness to cryonics, I find it puzzling that more Atheists, Skeptics and Secular Humanists (whom I lump together as "Retrohumanists" because of their backwards-looking view of human prospects) haven't at least endorsed the idea that conquering aging and death would be a Very Good Thing, even if they find cryonics a dubious way to go about it. Instead they tend to go towards the opposite extreme outlined by Epicurus and Lucretius, arguing that since human existence offers only a finite range of possible experiences, and that "death is nothing to us," merely extending human life past 100 years wouldn't necessarily add that much more utility to one's consciousness (the "immortality would be boring" cliche). Besides, in a universe operating according to materialist principles, "where we are, death is not; where death is, we are not," so it won't matter what happens after we are dead because "we" no longer are. Shakespeare got it wrong; death is a "discovered country," but there's no "there" there.
While I appreciate what Epicurus and his Retrohumanist followers tried to accomplish with this argument, I don't agree with their assumption that human existence offers only a finite range of possible experiences, especially if you allow for Transhuman upgrades and the potential for adventures scarcely conceivable today, either in neuro-space, cyberspace or outer space. The argument also implicitly assumes that we are somehow "entitled" to only so much life, at the end of which we are "destined" to die, but this strikes me as theistic and at odds with explicit Retrohumanism. Who or what is doing the "entitling" and "destining"? Any Retrohumanist who believes that might as well profess belief in the Three Fates from Greek mythology. However, because the ancient philosophers and theologians lived in a world where people died for mysterious reasons and little or nothing in a very hard human condition changed from one generation to the next, the beliefs that human longevity was determined by forces beyond our control and that it had little to offer beyond a few decades' duration would have seemed plausible to them.
But modern Retrohumanists don't have these excuses. Instead I suspect that they really do feel that death is bad, and that the more scientifically enlightened ones do understand that it could be eradicated some day, but because of inertia in the Retrohumanist culture, they still go along with the neo-Epicurean bravado about death. Professing "death is nothing to us" as a rationalization for accepting death might have been liberating in a god-haunted past, but today it seems really dysfunctional when extended human existence is more worthwhile and we can foresee some alternatives to aging, decrepitude and dying.
And, ironically, when you put Retrohumanists on the spot, their defence of the goodness of annihilation doesn't sound like they've fully convinced themselves, much less others. I have a tape of Retrohumanist guru Paul Kurtz on a Christian radio talk show, back in the late 1980's, where when the host asked Kurtz how he will confront death, Kurtz clearly stumbled in his answer, saying that life in "heaven" (whatever that means) would be boring and otherwise acting as if the question caught him off guard. (I would point out that since, according to the Christian story, there has already been one rebellion against God's authority in heaven, what's to keep that from happening again and again throughout eternity?)
Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptic magazine and author of a couple of books mentioning cryonics and Immortalism, provides another example of the Retrohumanists' cultural inertia. He says he's not going to do anything regarding his radical life extension because of his "skepticism" about its feasibility, showing that despite his familiarity with what cryonics is about, he is blind to the dire moral urgency for conquering death that is so obvious to us. What he really means is that he's too lazy and comfortable in his current, doomed life, criticizing others' unorthodox beliefs (which he calls "weird things," including cryonics and Immortalism, in one of his books), to exert himself over something that might also evoke the disapproval of his Retrohumanist friends and colleagues because of its controversial nature. (Despite their rhetoric about free inquiry and the freedom to engage in lifestyle experiments that don't harm others, Retrohumanists can be just as conformist and sheeplike as the rest of humanity, even if doing so costs them their very lives.)
There are a couple of exceptions that I know of, fortunately. Frank Zindler, editor of American Atheist magazine and immensely learned, has written favourably of using biotechnology to conquer aging and death [http://www.americanatheist.org/win98-99/T2/zindler.html]. And Anne Stone, another member of American Atheists, has posted a whole book on the Web [http://www.nodeath.org] advocating physical immortality, though critical of cryonics because she's hung up on the fact that the patient has to be declared "dead" under current laws before the cryopreservation procedure can begin.
Nonetheless, Retrohumanists are long overdue for an intellectual housecleaning. Questioning, and then discarding, the ancient neo-Epicurean beliefs about the undesirability of radical life extension and the bravado of accepting death would take them a long way towards replacing the "Retro-" prefix with the "Trans-" prefix. Out of these people we could then find some good candidates for cryonics.
"And so this darkness and terror of the mind Shall not by the sun's rays, by the bright lances of daylight Be scattered, but by Nature and her law." Lucretius, On the Nature of Things (translated by Anthony M. Esolen)
WWXD? ("What would Xena do?")
Survival and Continuity, the Present-moment Self
by Brook Norton firstname.lastname@example.org
It seems to me that "survival" has real meaning but does not necessarily imply that some special quality or soul or absolute identity is continued through time. Survival, to me, in the common usage applied to living entities, simply means that the entity is not changed in such a way as to preclude further life functions (breathing, eating, etc). Further, within cryonics we often extend survival to mean that the changes in an entity are not so great as to destroy memories. But all of these definitions are strained and have very gray areas. For example, how much memory loss constitutes loss of survival? If I upload and stop breathing or eating, surely I still survive, etc. So survival really just becomes a more vague idea that life and some specific, important qualities of an entity continue over time (not that a soul or absolute identity continue over time).
Our consciousness and emotions and drive to be happy seem to only exist at the present moment. Our past and future selves are only important in that we have memories of the past and anticipations of the future that affect our happiness at the present moment. Only in the present moment do we survive. Beyond this connection to the past and future, I don't see any special significance to our continuity over time.
I believe that evolution has conditioned our brains to cherish memories (memories provide the information needed to live long enough to pass on the genes to the next generation) and to feel happiness when working toward a happier future (again, planning for a happy future is very helpful in living long enough to pass on your genes). And so through evolution, we find ourselves very occupied with contemplating the past and future. But again, we only really exist at the present moment and to say that our future selves are somehow a survival of our current self seems without meaning... a word game. We are who we are right now. Past and future versions of ourselves will have their moment to be conscious and no more.
I believe that even though I can NOT survive in some meaningful way into the future, I still participate in cryonics because it makes me happy NOW. It makes me happy now because my brain is a product of evolution that stimulates the pleasure centres when I plan for a future that looks secure for my future self.
I think this view takes some romance out of our visions of ourselves but it seems logically consistent and it hasn't had more than a short transient depressing effect on my personality and so acknowledging this state of reality seems like the thing to do.
I agree with Bob Ettinger in nearly all his philosophy but am unable to see how the self circuit can "bind time." I see no reason to believe that we cannot simply live in the present moment. Why complicate matters by theorizing a way of binding time? I see that there is a certain dynamic to our consciousness. But there is a dynamic in many physical phenomena. A baseball only moves through the air when you compare several time frames to each other. Movement is meaningless if you only look at the present moment. But a baseball achieves motion without "binding time" and in the same way, I believe we can achieve consciousness without binding time.
by Peter Merel < email@example.com >
That someone's "essence" should be merely a character in a story they invent about themselves seems inconceivable. Myself is plainly a concrete thing, either dead or alive, here or not, now or not. Though physical science can't detect them, our identities are surely unique and indivisible, immutable components of the universe as unchanging as the stars.
Well, no, that seems a little strong. The stars, we know, are far from unchanging. Plainly human identity is more immutable than stars. It's as immutable as the universe itself.
Hmm. Well, the universe apparently goes through fundamental changes from time to time. Identity must be more immutable than the universe, I feel it in my bones.
Unless - just perhaps - I'm making too much of identity. Or at least misunderstanding something here. After all I've been mistaken about things in the past. Even if my identity is more permanent than the universe, my understanding certainly isn't, and my understanding of my identity could easily be flawed.
Well then, let me take that first assumption, that my identity isn't just a character in a story I invent to account for what I sense. Maybe that's not a very good assumption. If we question that one, then identity might not be a thing at all. It could be more like an adjective, like right or little or afraid. Or a combination of those adjectives, something like a taste or a smell.
But then what's all this stuff about love and harmony? What about all my friends and relations? They don't know me as just an adjective. They know me as a process, an ongoing dynamic relationship. I've got soul, dang it!
And if I'm an adjective, or even a locus for relationships with others in a social network, then what about these memories I carry around with me? They seem mighty important to me. Well, okay, granted they're mostly memories about people and places I've cherished, relationships I've enjoyed - but there's still a whole swag of memories that operate at a more basic level.
Maybe they're my identity and the rest is just memories of externality. Well now that's a pretty fine distinction to draw. It seems like a lot, maybe most of these basic memories, things like how to put words together, how to surf, what to eat, how to look at trees, and so on, are things I learned as I went along. Not all of them, of course, but it's only fair to say most were learned rather than innate.
I had to be born with some minimal abilities or I couldn't have learned these things. Assuming there wasn't anything special about my gestation, I suppose the identity I didn't learn as I went must be encoded in my genes.
Still these genes are plainly just information, and then it seems like it's the abilities they enable, rather than the genes themselves, that are important to my identity. You can take a hair that's fallen off me, or a skin flake or nail clipping containing millions of copies of my genes and burn it up, and that certainly won't affect my identity at all. I don't think there's much difference between my genes and everyone else's. My genes make me human - they don't make me, me.
But now it seems like there's nothing left. We've stripped away everything external, the learned memories and the received genes, and still I have this fundamental sense of identity. I can still feel it in my bones. What's up with that?
Maybe identity is hallucinatory? I've seen optical tricks that make straight lines seem to curve, or black and white boxes flash with colours. Illusions. Given that I've been able to exclude every empirically external or received part of myself, and still have this strong impression of my identity, perhaps I have to think I'm nothing but an illusion too.
That doesn't answer, though. If all I am is illusory, what about the rest of the world? Is it all just some story I invented to account for my sensations? Where do those sensations come from then? This is starting to sound awful philosophical. It might take years of reading to go down that path - reading dry stuff by introverts with long names. Heck, let's keep well out of that if we can.
What's going on here has to be a concrete thing. Okay, let's stipulate, for a moment, that the world, all its phenomena, history, and future, are dramatic in nature. There's something going on beneath the drama, like the city beneath a street map, but let's suppose that my brain is a mechanism for creating and maintaining drama, that for some reason a dramatic understanding conveys a biological advantage.
I guess that's got to be predictability. If I can represent the world as drama then I can hunt more easily, anticipate danger, and become literate. Really handy stuff.
A mechanism like that seems like it's almost an inevitable product of evolution, nothing spooky about it. It seems fair to say, then, that my identity is another part of this dramatic world. Not an illusion, but not as immutable as the ages either. What goes on beneath the drama - the various levers, pulleys and props behind the proscenium of my brain - is some flowing process I can't describe with drama, because to do so is like trying to construct Leggo block with Leggo blocks. Not enough resolution, not enough subtlety, and not enough blocks!
So if you duck back there beneath the drama the dramatic understanding naturally vanishes like grease-paint, and inevitably my identity, a character in the drama, goes with it. Where, after all, is Othello after the curtain rings down and the actor and his audience go home?
If we can reconstruct the drama that I use to represent me and mine, there can be no essential difference between one production and another. Drama needs a willing audience, a suspension of disbelief, sure. And there may be a different theater, or different actors. The natural process of metabolism replaces every atom in my body every 7 years, so believing that certainly doesn't require any new-fangled technology or long-winded philosophy.
If this view is fair then I need have no fear of uploading or reconstruction; so long as my memories, processes, and relationships are not dramatically perturbed, my identity will naturally be preserved along with all the rest of this drama I call the world.
In fact, when I think about it, it's faith in that dramatic continuity that permits me to happily close my eyes and go to sleep at night, content that I'll still be me in the morning. I'm content so long as the play is written down in a form that can be revived for an appreciative audience. For all I know, an uploaded reproduction is all that's happening around me right now anyway.
After all they say that all the world's a stage.
Looking Back At the 21st Century
by Yvan Bozzonetti <Azt28@aol.com>I am often late, so I try to get ahead of time when I can :-)
I would give here a look at what we could see in the comming century. This is a personal view, and I have no crystal ball to be sure. So this is as much a window on my way of thinking as on the time to come.
If I look back to the 20th century and ask myself : What was the great discoveries and technologies, I would put quantum mechanics and relativity in the discovery basket, but there was not much effect on the day to day life. The big technologies was: concrete, Taylor division of work (car production) and consummer credit. Computers, biotechs and the like was too late to count.
From this past experience, what would I expect next? In the transport domain, I think high speed train could be included in the car domain. In cities, a car would use electricity from fuel cells or flywheel when its on road range may be up to 50 - 100 miles. After that a gas turbine or modern two stroke engine would take over. For longer distance travel the car would be loaded on trains with motor on every boggies. Using 3rd rail electricity feeding, the speed could be as high as 500mph. The driver would stay in the car so that the system is a door to door integrated transport. Sorry, I don't see large use of flying car, even if they are a technological possibility.
Balloons are the second winner. GPS-like systems allow rather simple robotic flight and weather "satellites".
They could move house units from place to place and bring to them essential products such fuel for fuel cells and water. With that system, even very remote location could be attractive. Before the car, the choice was between a bad life in the country or a not as bad life in the town. Now the choice extends to the suburb, in fifty years it will include all the planet. What about real estate in the Sahara or the Atacama ? Buying in the Australian outback could be a good bet.
The real value of that exercise is here: To guess where will be to market tomorrow. Modern balloons have a very big economical potential because they open the full planet surface to housing.
by Yvan Bozzonetti <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Here I would get to the basic roots of that idea of Everett's multiverse interpretation of quantum mechanics (QM)
I have said before about distinguishability, how QM works on a space of functions, or 0-forms, or dual point or hyperplane in p-1 dimensions in a p dimensional space (On ordinary 3 dim. space, the hyperplane reduces to a surface).
So, assume we have a flat surface (the identity function) pinned to a point A in Euclidean space. If we move it to a point B, we have an arrow from A to B, its dual is a differential 1-form, or a stack of flat parallel surfaces. These surfaces may be tilted with respect to the arrow orthogonal surface, so we must cancel that tilt (defined as the imaginary part of the function) by the product with the same function endowed with the opposite tilt (we call this the conjugate function)
The problem is when A and B are the same. There is no arrow giving a privileged direction. We may then tilt the function surface along two angles a and b in 3 dimensions and 3 angles: a, b, c in four.
We know that tilting the 3 dim. space along the time fourth direction is what we feel as velocity in special relativity, so we know what the angle c is about. By analogy, the angle b could be termed "static relativity" or "point relativity", because the problem arises when there is no displacement.
What is this? For each function, such the identity one, we have now an infinite set of functions, each characterized by its own value of the b angle. The total number of functions in the Hilbert's space is not only infinite, it is uncountable. This is the so called nonseparable Hilbert's space.
Now, in special relativity, space tilt in the time direction is related to velocity by the hyperbolic tangent transform. Using on angle b the analogous tangent function of Euclidean space, we turn the angle b into a scale factor.
To get access to nonseparable Hilbert's space, we must so have a quantum system in a quantum system, a fractal property.
Doing that, we have induced a new tilt in angle a (recall the Euler's angles: move an angle a, then b, then a anew). To cancel that new tilt, we must anew introduce a product of the function by its conjugate. We are now in a space where the metric (what define distance) rests on the 4th power of the coordinate-function.
I have conduced that reasoning in the function formalism, it could have been done in the operator one with full tangent space. In that case, the second tilt cancelling on angle a seems define a displacement along a new dimension in a parallel universe. This is Everett's multiverse. In fact, the second tilt of angle a applies to the other quantum scale, not another dimension.
Making some small drawings help a lot to follow that recipe. To summarize: sorry but there is no other universe. Without cryonics you live one time in one world with no hope or help from elsewhere.
Can Cryopreservation Solve "The Abortion Problem"?
by Thomas Gramstad < email@example.com >
Could cryopreservation solve or defuse the political conflicts surrounding abortion, by giving both sides what they want? This idea has been proposed by people in the cryonics community, most recently by Daniel Ust. The idea is to get "Right to Life" anti-abortionists to support abortion by having aborted fetuses cryopreserved rather than destroyed or "killed". If one can gain support for this idea, suggest its defenders, one could defuse a very deep conflict in Western societies. This could also be a test case or showcase for cryonics technology.
I believe the answer to this question is no and yes, respectively. Because there really are two questions involved:
The first question is about the relationship between morality and technology. This is the "no"-part of the answer, because technology cannot really alter the moral issues involved in abortion, it can only expand the range of possible choices. That is, new technology cannot obliterate, override, or curtail existing individual rights. Everyone still has full sovereignty and exclusive rights to decide over one's own body and all its parts. This includes the right to remove and destroy a body part, such as an embryo or a fetus.
The second question, with the "yes"-part of the answer, is about the relationship between politics and technology. Cryopreservation technology opens up a new set of possibilities for the abortion-seeking woman, possibilities which are, or ought to be, palatable for (rational) anti-abortionists.
In this article I simply take the existence or possibility of a functional cryopreservation technology for granted. I do not presume to evaluate the technical feasibility of fetus cryopreservation. I'm only interested in exploring where the premise of a functional cryopreservation technology might lead to. Given this premise, and the moral and political premises outlined above, I do believe that fetus cryopreservation could go a long way towards defusing and/or solving political conflicts about abortion. If the anti-abortionist can peacefully persuade the abortion-seeker to allow cryopreservation rather than destruction of the fetus, then they both get what they want. I want to stress that given the premises I have outlined above, a decision to cryopreserve the fetus is NOT a compromise -- it is a win-win situation, freely chosen by both parties. For the abortion-seeker cryopreservation is just one more option to choose from; for the anti-abortionist it is a possibility to save a life, if the negotiations are successful.
So let us explore how a negotiation might proceed, and the social and cultural background that may be required if there is to be a negotiation at all (that is, what does the anti-abortionist have to offer an abortion-seeker? Why would an abortion-seeker even bother to listen?)
FETUS DESTRUCTION MOTIVES
Why would a woman want to insist that the embryo or fetus be destroyed?
I can imagine at least four reasons (and I do not presume to be exhaustive, but these cases illustrate how one might proceed with a persuasion or negotiation to save the fetus):
1. Privacy concerns.
The woman might want to be certain that noone comes knocking at her door some day in the future, disrupting her personal life with claims about being her biological son/daughter, wanting to know about her and her life, why she had an abortion etc.
In order to address this need, the anti-abortionist might support laws that protect privacy, and point out to the pregnant woman how their anti-abortionist group have supported such rights. Still, private investigators have a lot of techniques for finding people; usually someone will succeed in finding their biological parents if they really want to. The anti-abortionist could then explain about how the anti-abortionist group will (1) offer the offspring to join their free-of-charge "abortion surviver" support group, (2) assist the offspring finding professional psychological help if necessary, and (3) if worst comes to worst, provide free legal counsel and other help if the abort-seeking woman were ever stalked or harassed by the offspring. Surely anti-abortionists would work together in order to be able to offer all these things, if they are serious about protecting the "little people" from death. This certainly must be a more constructive and satisfying activity than today's political struggle, and demonstrations and badgering in front of abortion clinics.
Still, destruction would preempt a lot of potential problems for the abortion-seeker, wouldn't it?
So then the anti-abortionists may pull the ace from their sleeve: "If you agree to a cryo-preservation, free-of-charge, we guarantee you, and you will have this in a legally binding contract, that the embryo or fetus will not be reawakened in your lifetime. For you, that is indistinguishable from destruction. For us, it is a life saved."
2. Property and inheritance concerns.
The following may not apply to the US, where I understand that anyone may decide freely what happens to all and every part of their property upon their death. But in many other countries, biological relatives can make claims to inherit property. In particular, direct line descendants (son/daughter) can claim a certain fraction (in Norway 1/3) of all the property of their parents (this even applies against the will of the parents). That is, if you are a parent, you can upon your death only decide to give away 2/3 of your property to other people or institutions than your kid(s).
The anti-abortionist answer to this concern would be to support laws that make void any would-be claims from someone who was "aborted". This is similar to adoption; abortees as well as adoptees can make no claims on their biological parents -- such claims could only be directed at their "real" parents, i.e., the people who assumed parental responsibility and raised them, or their legal guardians. An "abortee" would just be a special case of an adoptee.
Indeed, establishing and maintaining a clear legal distinction between "real" (social, upbringing) parents and biological parents (when different), ought to be one of the primary causes and concerns of anti-abortionists, since it will help them "save lives".
Daniel Ust suggests that in a society with widespread cryonics, inheritance might cease to exist -- except in cases where total destruction of a person happens. Surely, this would still happen, but imagine if only 10% of people who died were dead permanently. That would call for a change in the legal definition of death and probably nullify inheritance laws like the ones in Norway.
3. Concerns about values and character formation during upbringing
Today adoption is a random process where the biological parents have no idea what happens to the offspring if it is adopted away. If aborted embryos and fetuses were preserved and then incorporated into the adoption system, the same would apply to them. Indeed, preserved embryos and fetuses would just be one more group of babies up for adoption or in search of guardians (starting with a "prenatal adoption", that is, a transplantation of the fetus to another woman's womb).
I think the adoption system needs some amending; at the very least there should be an option, for those biological parents so inclined, to specify certain demands and preferences related to values and beliefs that the guardians or adopting parents must fulfill. For example, an Objectivist woman adopting away a child might insist that the guardians must not be fundamentalist Christians; that preferably they should be atheists, or if possible, even Objectivists. So one should be able to indicate some preferences about the guardians, and thus about what kind of upbringing the offspring will get; increasing the possibility of the offspring being acquainted with and perhaps choosing some of one's own values. The more such demands one would make, the more difficult it would be to find guardians, so there is obviously a trade off here for the biological parent renouncing parental responsibility. Perhaps few abortion-seeking women would care about this, and only want to get rid of the embryo or fetus. But perhaps an abortion-seeking woman would prefer destruction of the fetus rather than becoming the cause of a child raised with irrational beliefs and destructive values.
In order to meet and argue against this concern, it would be a great help for an anti-abortionist to be able to point to a well-organized agency or organization whose specialty is to locate and offer guardians within the desired range of values and upbringing style. Or at least to be able to say, "we have just begun the work of building up our special division which will address this need, and we will not reawaken your embryo/fetus until our agency is running smoothly and we are able to meet your standards and requirements.". So anti-abortionists should not only support the creation of such organizations, they ought to be proactive in creating them, and working for them.
4. Concerns about medical research or clinical treatment
Today embryos and fetuses are important in medical research and clinical treatment. For example, we are unable to regenerate human nervous tissue, but we can get regenerative tissue from fetuses which can be used for treatment of neurological diseases like Parkinson's disease. Research on fetuses may teach us how to produce regenerative nervous tissue artificially in the laboratory, and it is probably the only way to find out how. So embryos and fetuses are absolutely necessary as medical and clinical raw material.
Thus, one can imagine an abortion-seeker who would want to donate the embryo or fetus to such research or treatment -- especially if there has been neurological disease in the family. Suppose she has a living spouse or parent with Parkinson's disease in desperate and life-threatening need of regenerative tissue. In such a case, one could even imagine a woman choosing to get pregnant with the conscious intent of producing an embryo/fetus that can be used to save the life of the spouse/parent.
Well, you can't win them all; the anti-abortionist would have little to offer in such a case.
One thing that can be done in order to alleviate such cases, is to support and speed up the development of artificial womb technology. This would not only increase women's range of choice, it would also separate the medical need for embryos and fetuses from their current "method of production", i.e., women having abortions. This would spare a woman from having to get pregnant herself if she needed embryo/fetus tissue to save a loved one from a deadly neurological disease. Unfortunately, this artificial womb scenario is unlikely to appeal to an anti-abortionist, because it doesn't "save" any embryos or fetuses. On the other hand, artificial wombs would also reduce the number of cases of health problem pregnancies, including pregnancies where one must choose between the life of the woman and the life of the fetus. In other words, in this scenario artificial wombs can be used to save fetuses from destruction. Alternative solutions include cryopreservation and/or transplantation of the fetus to another womb.
Artificial womb technology and/or cryopreservation also opens up the possibility of producing, "farming" and harvesting embryos and fetuses in accordance to medical and clinical needs, just as one is now gearing up to produce (other) body parts and organs industrially. This will probably become an area of political conflict, since anti-abortionists are certain to oppose it. However, the issue of using or producing embryos and fetuses in order to get regenerative nervous tissue may become irrelevant in a couple of years. Geron and other biotech research companies may be able to make embryonic research unnecessary and anachronistic by developing new knowledge about and techniques for neurological regeneration.
Probably some anti-abortionists will support the cryopreservation proposal, some will oppose it, and yet others -- perhaps even a majority of them -- will advocate cryopreservation as a mandatory replacement for plain abortion. The latter could create a good deal of social tension and conflict. Or perhaps this would simply divide and weaken the anti-abortionists. I suppose this too could be judged a successful result of the proposal by pro-choicers.
How far in the future is immortality?
by Kirk Israel < firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com http://www.alienbill.com >
We might be on the cusp of immortality ... maybe. To me it seems like an optimistic hope. Then again, I've always been a worrier... a year or so before Y2K and I was very scared-- (then the data came in over 1999, and I was less so.) On the other hand, my friend says don't bet against science. So who knows. Wired magazine thought people born around 2020 have a shot, us old fogies (I was born 1974) are gonna miss the boat. In terms of technology, I dunno. They point to nano as the cure all. In my half assed (not even half) understanding of biology, I think our cells miss copying the very ends of our DNA sometimes. So over a lifetime, the junk at the ends gets shorter and shorter, 'til finally important genes aren't getting copied, then things really start to go to pot. So if you could add to those buffers at the end... (But then again, this might imply that sperm cells from an older man would tend to produce much shorter lived kids then those of a youngster, and I don't think that that's true.) Anyway.
You need to ask why you want to live forever anyway. For most people, I think it's just because they're scared of death, and I don't think that's enough of a reason. (My reason is just that life seems more interesting, but that's not much of a philisophical improvement.)
Anyway, the idea that I could be missing immortality (or, more hopefully, some form of physical and mental eternal youth, who wants to be an old old feeble feeble guy getting more and more senile?) by mere decades is tough; but then again, comparing my likely lifespan to that of my species historically, or even to people who live under much harsher circumstances, lets me appreciate and accept my not-too-unhappy fate. But the idea that if I made the right decision - cryonics, say, get my self frozen, to be revived later - I could live and observe forever, makes it much more difficult to accept my lot. It's such an odd gamble - should I structure my life finances so I can afford it? And if the gamble doesn't prove to be worth it, I'll likely never know, being dead and all. Which actually brings up some weird philosophical questions. If I'm dead, then revived, but my mind is altered in the process, am I the same person? What degree of brain alteration still lets me be me? And how is death different than, say, the really deep dreamless sleep I go through every night?
If you could keep your physical and mental health forever, other issues become huge. Like, if an asteroid *does* hit the earth, or a plague sweeps across the world, or the oceans rise and swamp everything, or a bajillion other things are going to affect you, that otherwise you'd likely miss in your 3 score years and ten. And you're going to be so scared of 'em, since you think you're headed for eternal life. But the thought of cryonics has forced to get nihilistic in a cheerful kind of way. If I die today, that's ok on some level. I mean I don't want to die anytime soon, but even at 26 I've lived an ok life, I've loved and been loved, created some and read some and observed some, and so there's nothing I have to do before I die.
Anyway, I talk a lot more about mortality in the URL below. Earlier this year I was having anxiety attacks about it, but I've thought my way through it, for at least the time being.
Dealing with Mortality: A Skeptic's Guide - http://kisrael.com/mortal/
by George Smith <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Please remember that the current popular "Big Bang" theory, from which the idea of "Black Holes" comes, could simply be wrong.
The criticisms made of this theory in the book The Big Bang Never Happened by Eric Lerner have yet to be countered. Mr Lerner still contends that all of the "evidence" for the Big Bang can be explained more simply using plasma physics while there remain some very hefty pieces of evidence which still contradict the Big Bang theory.
Perhaps it will turn out that the Big Bang theory is correct after all. However the lack of cosmic uniformity and the simple fact that the universe is too large in the required time since the purported Big Bang does not make me feel comfortable with the efforts to "band aid" the theory with "Sudden Expansion" addendums.
If, as Lerner suggests, the universe is actually eternal and infinite, then the conservation of information seems inevitable. Such a perspective would also then explain the reason for the various anomalies pointed out over and over by Rupert Sheldrake in A New Science of Life.
Which is true? I do not know. However, the Big Bang theory seems more and more to resemble the effort of Middle Ages religious apologists who, instead of challenging their dogma's fundamentals, simply kept adding patchs to the holes which kept appearing in the face of contradictory evidence form observations of the universe as it is.
Today we are seem to be patching Black Holes. And they may turn out to be mere figments of the imagination.
I only hope to at least live long enough to see an end to our current version of the Dark Ages. It still remains so very obvious to me that the presumption of short lives remaining the human norm causes most of the incredible stupidities of our so-called "modern" world. These issues were very well dealt with in Professor Ettinger's two excellent Books The Prospect of Immortality and Man Into Superman (online for reading http://www.cryonics.org/book2.html ). The evolutionary causes are well outlined in The Lucifer Principle by Harold Bloom.
What will be required for true "increased intelligence" to happen in our species as a whole? Perhaps the beginning of wisdom is to not assume that we already are right about everything - to seek the proverbial "open mind".
A longer life usually gives one many opportunities to determine how very often we can be wrong.
Perspective seems critical here.
The other point of view
Lerner's chief critic offers his views at:
The only problem I have with the good professor's website (above) is that
(2) the good professor is on sabbatical and unreachable until June 2001.
This critique reads to me more like a repetition of the belief system Lerner criticized. It still requires invoking both "dark matter" which may not exist and relies upon the sudden expansion theory to explain how the universe got bigger than it can be since the Big Bang.
The COBE probe validated Lerner's criticisms, as he detailed in the second edition of The Big Bang Never Happened.
This still reads more like a political "debate" with repetition of slogans that an honest critique.
Still in the Dark Ages it would seem.
Also, Thomas Donaldson rightly wonders why, if the universe is much much older, perhaps eternal, we do not have evidence of non Earth intelligence.
(I would first add that I am still waiting for evidence of Earthly intelligence!)
More seriously, to see that there might have been such visitations would first require abandoning the primate peer pressure of denying that such evidence could exist already. That done, there are four hypotheses I could suggest to explain why we seem to have no evidence for Mr. ET
I find it interesting that MOST of our culture's origin stories refer to visitations from "gods" who came to earth and either launched, tinkered or at least taught humanity basic tricks of agriculture and metal smithing.. Von Danikan made this idea popular with his Chariots of the Gods and raised the ire of respectable scientists for decades, but it does seem curious that there are so many, many stories about such visitations. When I was in grade school plate tectonics was ridiculed, we all knew that the brain steadily died from birth and "space travel is bunk". I wonder what today's schoolchildren will be told when they are grown up.
There is the weird possibility that we would not recognize any sufficiently advanced technology anyway. For example, as an off hand comment Rupert Sheldrake once suggested that the Sun might possibly be conscious based upon the strange observation that some solar activity seems to behave like brainwaves. Human beings still can't seem to "crack" the communication patterns of dolphins, other mammals on our own world. How much harder to discern the thoughts of a star, if such be the case? The more removed an intelligence may be from us over time, the more we might be entirely blind to their immediate presence. (Sun blocker anyone?). And in accord with Clark's Law, the actions of any such advanced technology might be reflected in the miracle stories of many of the world's religions.
Finally, mystics of all cultures and throughout history claim that human beings exist in a "crippled" consciousness which causes us to exist in a sort of sleepwalking condition, out of touch with reality. This might suggest that any truly advanced species would have overcome our delusionary consciousness state such that their manner of perceiving the universe would cease to have much in common with us. Or maybe they were never saddled with this delusionary consciousness state to begin with.
This suggestion is most quickly to be rejected by most people I have talked to. Yet it is true that human beings do seem to live their lives in a dissociated state of consciousness such that they seldom operate in the present, in their bodies, behind their eyes, but tend to live from daydream versions of reality. (Memories seem to be rewritten from an exterior viewpoint, for example).
If the human state of evolved consciousness is unusual, perhaps caused by our split cerebrum dividing our consciousness, then other intelligences may find us amusing, perhaps even sad, but certainly not capable of sane intercourse. We may be one of the very few intelligent species with a conscious mind accompanied by a separate unconscious mind. Others may be fully conscious without this apparent division.
Or, even more simply, there may exist at least four spatial dimensions and, as we human beings only can perceive three, the level of those operating with four makes communication with us incredibly difficult, like discussing color in art with a blind man.
There still remains the possibility that in even an infinite and eternal universe, we are it. No one visits because no one is out there.
Cryonics offers the possibility to learn the answers to these questions.
The 28th Update on My Fly Longevity Experiments
by Douglas Skrecky
This is the 28'th update on my fly longevity experiments. In run #24 I further looked at ways and means of reducing alcohol induced mortality. Unfortunately A 20% alcohol solution (50% vodka) is much more toxic than than the 12.5% wine I had used earlier. Most flies died during the first day of alcohol exposure. The surviving flies had been exposed to various supplements for such a short period of time that these may have not had enough time to built any protection against alcohol toxicity. However adding some rooibos tea to the grape extract Leucoselect, appeared to delay early death somewhat. Pycogenol looked somewhat interesting too. This results might be all due to chance.
|Run #24||Percent Survival on Day|
|+50% prune juice||15||15||5||0||-|
|+leucoselect 200 mg||15||15||5||0||-|
|+artichoke 250 mg||15||10||0||-||-|
|+bilberry 200 mg||6||0||-||-||-|
|+pycnogenol 200 mg||32||32||0||-||-|
|+leucoselect 400 mg||9||9||0||-||-|
In run #25 I further looked at the individual effect of pycnogenol, and rooibos tea on survival of alcohol free flies. Artichoke was included as a positive control. Here I was surprised by the excellent short term survival of pycnogenol doped flies. This advantage proved to be transient. Several interpretations are possible to account for this temporary benefit. Proanthocyanidins are known to be unstable in solution, and it is possible that pynogenol proanthocyanidins became oxidized after about 2 weeks, so that their protective antioxident effect was lost after this time. Another possible explanation is that flies might reduce their own antioxidant defences, with continued exposure to pycnogenol. I intend to test these hypotheses in future.
|Run #25||Percent Survival on Day|
|artichoke 250 mg||94||81||69||69||63||56||44||31||31||13||6||0||-|
|pycnogenol 100 mg||100||92||69||62||38||38||38||31||23||11||0||-||-|
|pycnogenol 200 mg||100||100||78||78||56||44||44||11||11||0||-||-||-|
|50% rooibos tea||94||81||69||50||44||38||31||25||25||19||6||6||6|
|100% rooibos tea||96||65||65||52||48||48||48||35||17||4||0||-||-|
Editorial note - The 29th update appeared out of sequence in LR78
The 30th Update on My Fly Longevity Experiments
This is the 30'th update on my fly longevity experiments. In Run #28 I tested the effect of various food items on fly longevity. I also looked at evidence of toxicity of an anti-obesity citrus aurantium extract, which contains 15 mg synephrine.
It was somewhat surprising that synephrine was associated with reduced late mortality. I will have to have another look at this in future to see if this advantage was a fluke or not. Coconut juice also looks worth a second look.
Early survival was increased notably by propolis by the day 11 census, but late survival was actually reduced. The propolis extract also contained 500 mg of rosehips. If propolis/rosehip antioxidants deteriorate in solution, this might account for these effects.
|Run #28||Percent Survival on Day|
|mung bean hulls||100||100||70||60||60||50||30||20||5||0||-||-|
|kidney bean hulls||100||95||68||53||53||47||16||11||0||-||-||-|
|propolis 100 mg||100||100||90||76||71||62||19||10||5||0||-||-|
|kudzu root 500mg||95||89||68||68||63||58||37||21||11||5||0||-|
In Run #29 I attempted to stabilize proanthocyanidins with copper chelators so that the early survival benefits noted in earlier runs with the grape extract leucoselect, and the pine bark extract pynogenol might be extended in time.
Possibly due to the already excellent short-term survival of the controls, leucoselect did not offer any short term advantage. The higher dosage of pyconogenol did prove to be advantageous, with the usual increase in early survival, paired to a decrease in late survival when the proanthocyanidins have oxidized.
Both reservatrol, and rooibos tea can chelate copper. When I added either of these to proanthocyanidin extracts there was a minor benefit on survival. When used by itself rooibos tea (1 bag/cup water) yielded the best overall survival this time around. In future I will have to try resveratrol by itself as well.
|Run #29||Percent Survival on Day|
|leucoselect 100 mg||96||91||74||70||61||35||35||9||9||5||0|
|+resveratrol 50 mg||100||100||60||60||50||45||40||25||20||10||5|
|pynogenol 200 mg||100||95||68||68||53||42||37||16||11||5||0|
|pynogenol 300 mg||100||95||95||85||75||45||15||10||5||5||0|
In a continuation of my cryobiology experimentation, Freezer Run #2 tried to confirm the earlier benefit noted for pycnogenol at a dosage of 200 mg. Pycnogenol at the 200 mg dosage proved a bust this time, but doubling the dose to 400 mg appeared to slow freezing damage. This is just interesting enough that yet another experiment will be needed to determine if pynogenol feeding really protects flies from freezing damage. Note: The milk bottles were placed on their side in the freezer. Drops of water placed on the milk bottles housing the flies were all frozen after 1 hour, so it looks very likely the flies themselves were also frozen, and not merely supercooled. The flies had been stored for 6 days in their respective milk bottles before being placed in the freezer. A few flies had already died in this time, before the freezer experiment started.
|No of||Percent Survival After (hours)|
|20% less water||17||82||29||0|
|pycogenol 200 mg||21||95||57||0|
|pycogenol 400 mg||24||88||71||0|
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Longevity Report #76
I have picked up and put down this 20 page (A3 folded to A4) newsletter at least a dozen times and still cannot make my mind up as to the degree of seriousness in the publication. There is an article on Cryonics and Abortion and one on Reaching Pensionable Age, both serious topics, but , there is also an update on Fly Longevity Experiments. This, it seems, is an attempt to measure the survival rate of flies when fed differing diets: such life-giving (? extending) foodstuffs as wine, green tea, artichokes, leucoselect or resveratol.
Am I to take this seriously? At £3.50 a copy I don't think so. But then, I've probably (in a senior moment) missed the point.
reviewer: Tom Lewis.
Longevity Report #78
This report deals with aspects of cryonics, which is the freezing of the body at death, in order to maintain it for possible resuscitation.
The leader on identity is lively, and most of the writing on current scientific advances clear and concise. There is a hopeful experiment on Fruit Fly Longevity, and articles on Telepath Technology. The longing to achieve some kind of immortality inspires the journal, and presumably most of its readers. One slim volume (20 pages) is enough to show that there is a real possibility of scientists being able to use tissue from existing cells to recreate those parts of us which deteriorate with age - if one has sufficient money.
An intriguing survey of this area for those desperate for longevity.
reviewer: Olga Kenyon.
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