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Human Rights and Cryonics Alison Priestley
Why Interest in Cryonics? Igor
Getting Wealthy People to Support Research Randall Parker
31st and 32nd Update on Fly Longevity Experiments Doug Skrecky
New Member Introduction Matthew S. Malek
Duplicates Are Self: A Proof Lee Corbin
A Short Bibliography on Consciousness Thomas Donaldson
Politics and the Future George Smith
N.F. Fyodorov, Russian Come-Upist Ed Tandy
Overpopulation by Lee Corbin
by Alison Priestley firstname.lastname@example.org
Correspondent, BBC Television's premiere current and foreign affairs series, is currently producing a special programme exploring the European Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights, and Article 2 - the "Right to Life" - in particular. We're very interested in hearing from people living in Europe who are thinking about signing up with a Cryonics organisation. Is it important to you to have the hope of life on earth after death? Why? If you'd be interested in contacting me about the programme (with no obligation to appear in it through getting in touch with me), please e-mail Alison at: email@example.com
Being a very logical, technological and scientific oriented person, I was born and raised in Russia as a military brat. My upbringing never encompassed religion, but rather was under somewhat a "communistic materialism" as I would put it. There is not too much communism left in me (maybe some idealistic thoughts) and probably never had been (as I was kicked out of Komsomol - Soviet Young Communist League for not paying my dues at the University - taking my then girlfriend, now my wife, for a milk shake or sundae was more appealing to me :-), but the idea of a physical world that is so awesome and explainable stuck with me. I have to give a credit to the Soviet system of education that was great as far as installing a solid strive for knowledge in me. I was 15 when I graduated highschool and 21 when I got my Masters in German and English from a Minsk Linguistic University. I am now very intrigued by rather a widespread American beliefs in God and living in Kansas ( :-), treatment of evolution in schools. Science seems not to be at the forefront of the society in this country and sometimes I am amazed that this society progressed so well with these ideas, but again there's gotta be a belief in something, right?
This said, I got more interested in the idea of cryonics when my then 4 year old son asked me "What happens after you die?" and I could not give him a reasonable explanation besides "That's probably it." He was down for some time after that, but then I asked him about a "second chance" of life and he seemed to be very happy about it. That was a beginning of looking for a reasonable solution which eventually led to cryonics. I literally, spent hours and hours devouring all the information on the Net that I could find and the more I read the more I liked the idea.
My wife of 11 years was somewhat skeptical about the idea, but later as we got some more insights she began to take a liking to it. Now my 6 year old son and almost 8 year old daughter ask questions about the procedure and are rather comfortable about it. We get a kick out of them talking to other kids in the class who bring up religion and Anton and Christina tell them about cryonics - other kids eyes almost pop out when this happens. I don't know what kind of conversation are these kids having with their parents after school, but so far noone confronted us about "muddying up the water" :-) neither at school nor the parents. And if they do, it's going to be a very interesting conversation for sure.
Why interest? After all, what else is out there? The idea of cryonics, in my opinion, is so refreshing (besides being refreshingly cool :-) and so logical, that I fail to see why many more people don't give it a consideration. It is so sad to have blinds on! Even if there were a higher power, I doubt that God would like you to go to waste (literally) for the sake of serving him for the eternity! Not fair, not logical - there is so much out there that can be accomplished for the betterment of your family and others.
These philosophical insights are always on my mind, thus the interest. Of course, I realize that this is such a different look at life, Universe and the rest of the people surrounding us that many people are just afraid to confront it. Sooner or later (I'd prefer later :-) we will all face it - who is going to be prepared better? I don't know. I guess I have 50/50 chance of succeeding, same way as any other deeply religious person. I realize that there is a rather vague treatment of cryonics by religion and maybe I am wrong opposing these two issues here, but this is the way I see it.
So far, I like the odds. Beats the heck out of "Powerball." :-) And by the way, evolution is a beautiful, simple, yet complex, and wonderful thing, Superintendent of Shawnee Mission school district and Kansas Legislature! :-)
by Randall Parker < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Ask yourself who you know that is more successful or well connected and start trying to convince that person that anti-aging research is worth pursuing and that the reversal of aging is something that can be achieved in our lifetimes.
Here's how to do it:
1) Write letters to your elected reps.
2) Consider who you know who is smart enough to understand the sorts of arguments made here and who is a manager or entrepreneur with better connections. Then send them the best posts from the archive of what gets posted here along with anything else you encounter or write up yourself.
It really doesn't take that much time. If enough of us start doing this one or more of us might change some powerful minds.
Don't underestimate your ability to change the thinking of minds that matter. You first have to aim your messages at those right sorts of minds. Remember that you are arguing for something that the vast majority really want: Youth. So the emphasis should be on the achieveability of the goal.
There are a few basic things to keep in mind here:
1) Almost everyone wants youth. Yes, there are some environmentalists who want us to die. And there are probably some religious people who think we should grow old and suffer because God wants us to suffer. But the vast majority want youth and robust health and energy.
2) It is a solvable problem in our lifetimes. Lets solve it sooner. The sooner we solve it the better off we will all be. To once again have the energy we had when we were 18 would be great.
3) The governments do not spend that much of their biomedical research funding specifically on understanding and attempting to reverse the deeper processes that cause aging. The US government spends only $100 million per year and other governments spend far less.
Therefore, small increases in government or private funding in focussed areas could do a great deal to speed up the current rate of progress. The elected representatives of various governments can divert rather small amounts of their budgets toward this purpose and cause a large percentage increase in current funding. For instance, the government of Great Britain could easily afford to fund a larger antiaging research effort than the US government currently funds.
4) Since such a small percentage of the population bothers to take the time to write to their elected representatives we can make a difference on this issue. If all the people who take the time to post on forums where life extension is discussed and who take the time to read publications like the Longevity Report were to take a small amount of time once a year to work for increased research funding into the causes and treatments for aging we could bring forward the day when effective anti-aging therapies will be available.
5) We are all connected to people who are connected to people who have power in politics or in business or thru the possession of wealth.. We can start with the people we know and try to convert them to the belief that aging can be conquered in our lifetimes. I've done this with a small number of people who I've tried out my arguments on. Its not hard. People don't want to grow old. They want to know that this problem is solvable just as so many infectious diseases were solved in the previous century.
This is the 31st update on my fly longevity experiments. In Run #30 I have a second look at Rooibos tea, after getting a positive result in Run# 29. I also look at red grape juice, since in Run #14 longevity was slightly higher in flies fed grape punch, as opposed to some other fruit juices. Finally I yet again look at blueberry juice. Despite my high expectations, canned blueberry juice yielded no benefit in Run #22. I decided to check the juice from frozen blueberries this time, hoping for a hit.
Unfortunately I made a silly mistake in setting up Run #30, which virtually destroyed the usefulness of the results. Instead of using my regular 5 tablespoons of fluid added to 20 mg fly food, I added 6 tablespoons. The surprising consequence of this mistake was the presence of condensation inside the milk bottles housing flies given rooibos tea, as well (formerly frozen) blueberry juice. The surface tension of dew drops can be deadly to flies, which drown very easily. Since only the control, canned blueberry juice, and grape juice bottles had no condensation, only in these bottles was a fair test given.
Note: One of the rooibos tea bottles used tea that had been boiled for 20 minutes, rather than just steeped. Boiling did appear to reduce survival.
Percent Survival on Day
|rooibos 0.5 bag/cup||94||58||45||19||3||3||0||-||-|
|rooibos 1 bag/cup||94||65||61||16||6||0||-||-||-|
|ditto - (boiled)||70||45||45||20||10||0||-||-||-|
|rooibos 2 bag/cup||97||76||59||35||12||0||-||-||-|
I also continued my cryobiology experiment, testing the effect of pynogenol on fly freezing resistance. If pynogenol does not exert any direct effect on freezing damage, then if it improved survival after frozen storage, it would do so by other short term beneficial actions. These might include suppression of freeze radical activity associated with reperfusion damage, and inhibition of blood clotting. Before the experiment I hypothesized that if pynogenol did not directly reduce freezing damage, any improvement in survival it should accrue only for short storage periods, where freezing damage is as yet not severe. With longer storage where there is zero survival of control flies, pynogenol fed flies should also have zero survival. This is exactly what happened.
One interesting observation was that the first census a couple of hours after the first 90 minute period of freezer storage yielded very poor survival, as evidenced by detection of movement. I did not expect the great increase in survival, when a second census 3 days later was performed. Although I had expected all the flies to be dead by then, many flies particularly in the pynogenol 300 mg bottle had sprung miraculously back to life.
This is the 32'nd update on my fly longevity experiments. In Run #31 I retest coconut juice, and synephrine, which improved longevity back in Run #28. For comparison purposes, I have reproduced part of Run #28 below as well.
Percent Survival on Day
|IP6 250 mg||74||50||34||24||18||8||3||3||0||-||-||-||-||-|
|+resveratrol 50 mg||88||50||33||33||21||17||4||4||0||-||-||-||-||-|
|resveratrol 50 mg||92||72||44||40||12||16||4||0||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|synephrine 15 mg||71||67||46||42||21||21||17||8||0||-||-||-||-||-|
|Run #28||Percent Survival on Day|
|synephrine 15 mg||95||90||60||60||55||55||40||40||30||25||20||10|
The flies used in Run #31 were derived from a rather old breeding bottle, which presumably held a lot of older flies. An increased number of doddering flies might account for the higher than normal short-term mortality in both the control bottle, as well as several other bottles in this run.
This time around synephrine did not increase maximum lifespan, though early survival was enhanced. Judging by its effect on flies, synephrine might prove to be a non-toxic antiobesity agent for humans.
Once again coconut juice was associated with superior overall survival, increasing both average and maximum survivals in both runs. The active ingrediants in coconut juice are unknown, as is the mechanism of their operation.
I included IP6 (inositol hexaphosphate), and resveratrol to test the iron, and copper dependance respectively of fly longevity. Flies fed 4-24 fly food are known to accumulate iron in tissues. Inclusion of iron chelators is known to block this accumulation and increase longevity slightly. However I use citric acid as a standard additive to block pathogen growth, and this may also reduce iron availability. This may be the reason IP6 failed to offer a benefit in the present experiment. Resveratrol also proved to be a disappointment.
One surpise hit was with Knudsen elderberry nectar juice. The ingrediants are as follows: filtered water, juices from whole apple, elderberry, bosenberry, plum, and grape. I was not impressed with the results with either apple juice (Run #11), prune juice (Runs #22 & 24) or with grape juice (Runs #11 & #30), although grape may offer a very minor benefit. Both elderberry and bosenberry juices remain to be investigated. Although average longevity was the best with elderberry nectar, no benefit on maximum lifespan appeared in this run.
In Run #32 I retested both coconut, and Knudsen elderberry nectar juices. The results were uniformly good. At a 50% dilution both juices increased lifespan. At full strength, coconut outperformed 50% juice up until the day 37 census. Full strength elderberry improved survival over 50% nectar at all time points. I will admit to being impressed with elderberry nectar. Further experiments investigating this nectar, as well as its components are planned for the future.
|Run #32||Percent Survival on Day|
|coconut juice 50%||94||88||61||52||39||33||30||30||27||15||12||0||-||-||-||-|
|coconut juice 100%||97||97||80||70||57||40||30||23||23||10||7||0||-||-||-||-|
|elderberry nectar 50%||92||65||65||58||38||35||19||15||12||12||12||8||4||4||4||4|
I tried another freezer experiment in my ongoing quest to discover a method for implimenting hopefully patentable reversible cryopreservation, getting rich, famous, etc. Pycnogenol was added to all bottles, since this earlier had been found to be beneficial. Various amounts of polyethylene glycol 200 were added to see if this could further increase survival. I chose a low molecular weight PEG, so it would be absorbed from the food into fly tissues.
Unfortunately adding PEG 200 to fly food results in some extra fluid being released from the food when it is thawed out after freezing. If there were any surviving flies, they were all drowned.
The moral of this story is that experiments testing the effectiveness of cryoprotectants in inhibiting freeze/thaw damage are not feasible with the current setup.
|Freezer Run #4||Percent Survival After minutes|
|pycnogenol 300 mg||100||4|
|+ PEG 200 17%||100||0|
|+ PEG 200 33%||94||0|
by Matthew S. Malek < email@example.com >
My name is Matthew Malek. I joined Cryonet earlier in the month and I have been lurking about on it ever since then. Since I have a lot of work to do this weekend in order to prepare a seminar for Monday... well, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to procrastinate and send out a little "hello" and an introduction!
I really have no idea what the particular netiquette for this list is when new members announce themselves. So I'm just going to jump in and start with a brief description of me, what got me interested in cryonics, etc. If I'm rambling too long and giving too much detail, then I beg your collective pardons in advance! *grin*
So, first a little bit about me:
I'm currently a 25 year old graduate student in the start of 21st grade! (In other words, I'm beginning the 5th year of graduate school) I got my Masters degree in physics back in 1998 and I am now about two years away from my PhD.
I live in Long Island and attend school at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook. However, I commute to work at my experiment... which happens to be a particle detector located under a mountain on the western half of Japan. For the past two years, I have spent half of year in Japan... and I expect to keep up this lifestyle for at least another year or two. This information becomes relevant later when I start discussing cryonics and me! :) Oh, heck! Why don't I do that right now?
Cryonics and me:
I became interested in cryonics just over a decade ago. I have many, many interests and it became clear when I was 15 that I would never be able to do them all in the span of a one century lifetime. A little investigation turned up the option of cryonics... and a little more pointed me towards Alcor. So, for the past 10+ years it has been my intention of being frozen at the end of this first life.
For most of the past decade, I have been an associate (i.e. non-suspension) member of Alcor. Basically, at 15 years old I simply didn't have the resources (or the legality) to become a suspension member. A year or two ago, I decided that I did have the financial means to become a suspension member, but I still have not done so. Why? Because I'm currently spending 50% of my time in Japan. As far as I can tell (please correct me if I am wrong), there is no cryonics institute which will do suspensions for me whether I am in the United States or Japan. If there is, I certainly haven't been able to find them yet (and not for a lack of trying).
If I am correct, then I plan to sign up with Alcor in late 2002, after I have my PhD and stop doing a multi-country commute. (Although working in Japan on "Super Kamiokande" has been a marvellous experience, I won't do that sort of commute again for many reasons besides suspension... For instance, it is certainly a strain on my fiancee!)
In the meantime, I have spent much time (and will continue to do so) trying to pass the notion of cryonics off on other people close to me. To be fair, I have had a poor success rate of only two "definites" and one "possibly" in the past ten years. But I keep trying. I'd be very happy to have more familiar faces about me when I come out of the tank for Life, Round II! *chuckle*
More general stuff about me:
I'd hate to come off as merely a scientist, especially since I expect that many of you may end up being the people I meet first for the aforementioned Round II. So let me fill in a little more detail about myself...
Religiously, I am the son of a Coptic father and a Jewish mother. So I turned out as an atheist (as did my brother)! However, my fiancee is Pagan (specifically Wiccan) and so I have spend a lot of time working ritual within the Pagan community (being an atheist doesn't keep me from having a spiritual side). On the other hand, I've yet to talk a single Wiccan into trying cryonics on for size (including my fiancee! Damn!). Most (not all) of the ones I've spoken to seem to believe in a quick reincarnation that negates any need for cryonics.
Interest-wise, I have been a panelologist (i.e. comic book collector) for 12 years. I found in interesting in 1992 when my favourite comic book hero (Iron Man / Tony Stark) used a cryonic suspension to save himself from a terminal illness. This was already two years _after_ I had decided on cryonics as an option for myself... so it was a _really_ kewl surprise to 17-year-old me! *smile*
Let's see... what else? I have been a SCUBA diver since 1994. I am currently working on obtaining my certification as a novice skydiver (you need 20 jumps for this... and I am still within my first ten). Next summer I am planning on getting a private pilot licence (I'm studying the textbook now, and when I come home from Japan next summer I will enroll in flight school). I enjoy travelling to other countries (besides Japan!) and have been to Egypt twice, as well as Thailand, China, Mexico, England, Singapore, Hong Kong, and most of the Carribean. I also love water activities such as sailing (tho I am not so skilled at this yet!), swimming (I spent four years as a professional lifeguard and two years as a swimming instructor), canoeing, waterskiing, snorkelling, kayaking, taking cruises, etc. I went to an alternative college (Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass) and so I have a great interest in alternative methods of education...
How about goals? Well, when I get my PhD in 2002, I've got several things I could do with it. I could stay in experimental particle physics, which is plenty interesting to me. Or I could go into the theory of cosmology and do nifty things like investigate the generation of matter in our universe. I've also thought about doing things which are not quite so interesting -- but would be more directly relevant to humanity than the basic research I am involved in now (not that I believe basic research isn't worthwhile! It most certainly is!!). But things like making solar power more efficient and nuclear power less messy, or designing interfaces for prosthetic limbs... well, these are other considerations for me, too. However, the number one choice of what I want to do next (if I get accepted) is to join the space program and become an astronaut via NASA. My PhD will qualify me to go up on the space shuttle as a mission specialist. And my pilot licence/experience will qualify me to apply for a pilot astronaut position. So I'll go for both positions and then cross my fingers till they hurt! (Every one opening has over one hundred applicants -- so being accepted is far from a sure thing!)
Whew! Well, there's certainly more to be said for both goals and interests... but I think I've said enough for now. I'm trying to flesh myself out a little bit here -- NOT cram my life's story into a single email! *smile*
However, this does point out the main reason why I decided to be frozen. The interests and goals I mentioned are not everything I am doing right now. And everything I am doing right now is not nearly as much as I'd like to be doing. There are several more languages I'd like to learn (Latin, Japanese, Arabic, Esperanto, etc.), and a sci-fi novel bouncing around in my head waiting to be written, and musical instruments to master, etc., etc., and so forth. And, active as I keep myself, I know that I cannot do it all right now. Or even in three times the amount of life I have already had.
Okay, that's about enough for now! Sorry if I droned on for too long (and I promise that with my intro message out of the way I won't be so self-centred in my writings anymore! LOL!), but I wanted to get a fairly reasonable picture of me painted for my introduction!
Stick a fork in me; I'm done!
Joy, Health, and Long Life!!
by Lee Corbin < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Why is it easy to believe that someone could be in the same place at two different times, but very hard to believe that someone could be in two different places at the same time? The two sound similar, and educated people today are conversant with a space-time perspective and the idea that (in some ways) space and time are interchangeable. So why do they always find "being in two places at the same time" extraordinarily counter-intuitive?
The answer is to be found in evolution. (The answer to almost everything is to be found in evolution.) An organism retains structural information about the distant past, but cannot contain such information about the distant present. It is clear that nature will design creatures to have memories consistent with what has happened to the creature in the past which means, potentially, only information within the creature's past light cone.
Even in the distant future, with uploaded programs running in parallel everywhere, nature will still have a tendency to fashion creatures who'll have a special regard for events that have happened just within 'their own' past light cone. So will there ever be any reason for an entity to identify with 'other' entities presently far away (i.e., outside its light cone)? ('Special quotes' explained below.) The answer is yes. Roughly, people will begin to identify with distant duplicates when they cannot avoid doing so, and this will come about when experience causes them to anticipate acquiring the memories of their distant duplicates.
Let us return to the central question for a moment. "Why do people find it so hard to believe that one can be in two places at the same time?" Logically, there SHOULD be no problem. For those who believe in physics, a person is a process like any other mechanical process, and is executing in some region of spacetime. When two processes are absolutely identical (in everything except location, say), we have utterly no problem deeming them to be the *same* process.
But let these two processes be someone who is being interviewed and his remote duplicate, then even people very conversant with these notions will balk at the idea that the remote duplicate, an identical process, is really the same person that they are. They will grasp at any straw available to avoid making such a concession. They will claim, for example, that minor differences accumulated in the last minute are crucial, conveniently forgetting that the remote duplicate is "closer" to them than is the person they were yesterday.
Such people often have little problem conceptually with the duplicates of *other people*. If a woman encounters two duplicates of her husband, she will readily admit that they constitute the "same person", albeit with slightly different memories. (Just as this same woman will naturally view her husband today being the same person as he was yesterday, even in the extreme case that he's had some amnesia.) When will people come to realize that one's duplicate is one's self? Probably not until the memories of duplicates are available. Let me provide an example.
Suppose a duplicate of you has been created, and he or she resides in your home on Earth for a day while "you" explore the Moon. Then at the end of the day, suppose a "merging" process could cause the creation of an entity which had equal access to the Moon memories and the Earth memories. Then this creature remembers being you on the Moon and remembers being you on Earth... *at the same time*.
"At the same time" is crucial, but how is it essentially different from what usually occurs? In the first place, I remember that sometime last month I went to a bookstore and sometime last month I had a haircut. I do not remember which came first. I don't even remember precisely on what days these events occurred. If you show me indisputable evidence that these two events *happened at the same time* then it will seem natural that I was in two places at the same time.
Next suppose that you have a duplicate in an adjacent room that you are monitoring on closed circuit television. You are told that you and he are the same person. Naturally, you disagree. You are then asked you whether it is preferable that your duplicate receive two minutes' electrical shock or you receive one minute's. You reply that you would prefer that your duplicate receive the two minutes' worth. ("Better him than me.") It is done, but that night a merging process copies 'your' memories of the day into 'his' brain and 'his' memories into 'yours'. (I must use funny quotes around "his" and "yours" because my central claim is that ultimately such a distinction is meaningless.) Now the next day the scenario is repeated. I ask 'you' whether it is better that 'your' duplicate get the two minute treatment or that 'you' get the one minute treatment. Now you're not so sure. For you now *remember* that yesterday you were sitting minding your own business being monitored on closed circuit television when suddenly out of the blue there came two minutes' of electrical shock. You remember this as being *very painful*. Nature has constructed you to avoid repetition of unpleasant incidents. So you now begin to suspect that 'you' and 'your duplicate' are the same person.
You decide (maybe after several more days of "two minute" punishments) that perhaps it is better to call down upon 'yourself' the mere one minute punishment. After that night, when the memories are merged, you conclude that you made a wise move. Today's punishment seemed to be less severe than yesterday's.
This proves (with just a little more discussion of "merging") that we *are* our duplicates. This proves that a person is a *pattern* of information, and that our scientific judgment that identical physical processes should in all regards be deemed identical has been validated. A key point about the crucial "merging" process is that it cannot happen between entirely different people. If you are placed in this same "one minute vs. two minutes" predicament with some alien reptile from another planet, the resulting "merged" creature won't be anything like either of you. It isn't even clear what merging would mean between different people. And the notion of merging has other problems, but none that can't in principle be overcome so far as this discussion is concerned.
Formally, if you are the same person you were last month (and it is sophomoric to deny it), then you must also be the duplicate in the next room who is a far, far more similar physical process. Don't get skittish just because the chronometer says that what you're looking at over the closed circuit TV is happening "now". Think of your duplicate who is quietly sitting there reading as an experience that happened to you last year... an experience that you've merely forgotten.
Uploaded individuals who constantly share and merge memories, and who are accustomed to acquiring and collecting memories from distant points in space, will also have no problem conceiving of themselves being in more than one place at the same time. As long as "individuality" and "identity" last, a person can only be defined, in the final analysis, as a fuzzy set of processes (or algorithms) not too dissimilar from one another.
(This essay was originally posted on Extropians in 1996.)
by Thomas Donaldson < email@example.com >
I note an increased interest in the "identity" problem. At the same time, there is actual work by scientists and philosophers on just that issue. Over time, I have reviewed books on this subject and will probably review more in Cryonics.
It's not that the arguments on Cryonet are lacking so much as they seem repetitive, and it would help all of us if we could simply refer to arguments elsewhere and go on from there. No one on Cryonet is stupid, and most participants have a high level of education. Still, a bit more education ON THIS SUBJECT would not go awry at all... and besides might help prevent a lot of repetition.
With this in mind, here are some books of interest to this debate/argument or whatever it is:
LG Valliant Circuits of the Mind
Steven Rose (ed) From Brains to Consciousness
BJ Baars In the Theater of Consciousness
A Damasio The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness
R Gosden Cheating Time
J Cornwell (ed) Consciousness and Human Identity
GM Edelman Bright Air, Brilliant Fire
DC Dennett Consciousness Explained
RL Nadeau Mind, Machines, and Human Consciousness
JR Searle The Rediscovery of the Mind
MS Gazzaniga Mind Matters: How Mind and Brain Interact to Create Our Conscious Lives
J LeDoux the Emotional Brain
None of these authors claims to have solved the problem, but all have made a dent in it. It would help the discussion if we were all aware of at least some of this work ... that would prevent repetition, among other things.
How Brains Work
Our brains do not operate like any computer system yet in existence. Connections between neurons change, at different rates, but even change in maturity. Most neurons that are connected are connected not by one synapse but by many. This alone makes them quite unlike any existing neural net; among other features, this changeable connectivity makes the simple use of wires (as in computers) not at all like how our brains work. In general terms, a lot of what our brains do looks a bit like that done by computer neural nets, but their structure differs a lot and therefore they will behave differently in detail. Second, the hormones going through our brain affect its activity. Our brain also affects the output of hormones. It seems unlikely that we can simply say that we work "like computers", even including our desires, values, aims etc. If nothing else, that claim deserves far more justification than it has yet received. It's particularly important here that feelings play a large part in virtually everything we do... even the feeling of curiosity is a FEELING, not something automatically generated by information alone.
Furthermore, our brains include a great deal of unconscious parallelism. We aren't aware of this because our CONSCIOUSNESS only remains aware of issues produced by this parallelism (in combination with our feelings).
With these differences it's not even clear that we work enough like computers that (even in our information processing, when we do so) things like Turing's Theorem bear at all on our operation. AT ROOT, the operation of our brain is not symbolic, among other issues. Use of symbols is an operation of our brain, but it's founded on non- symbolic activity.
I am happy to provide references for every point I have made here about how our brains work. The previous paragraph is my opinion alone, but it comes from thinking about how our brains really work. I would not be surprised if others agree with me, especially since I am asking a question rather than making a statement.
by George Smith < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Politics (at least in the US) is driven by politicians getting re elected and this is not conducive to long term planning if by long term we are speaking of more than two to six years. In the US the following statistics were true as of 1996 (American Booksellers Association survey results):
80% of US families did not buy nor read a book in 1995.
70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last 5 years.
58% of the adult US population NEVER reads another book after high school.
42% of US college graduates NEVER read another book after graduation.
$5.4 billion was spent on movies in the US in 1995.
In other words, most US citizens are virtually illiterate and rely almost entirely upon television for their world view. These are the majority to whom the politicians pander for their careers to be maintained. These are also the same majority the media panders to for their careers to be sustained as well. It is, in a very real sense, a closed system of ignorance, in my opinion.
I assume, due to evidence of higher literacy rates, that things are at least somewhat better in other countries but I believe that the ultimate difference must not be that great.
Why? Because when I travel to and communicate with citizens of other nations outside the US I find the same groundless beliefs in the propaganda masquerading as news (and even worse, "facts").
For a simple example, I happened to be in Ireland when President Clinton arrived there about 5 years ago to "help the peace process". My direct experience with both citizens of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland was the same: they all seemed to mindlessly believe that Bill Clinton would solve the problem. Why? Because that was what was being stated on television on both sides of the Atlantic.
Now we know better.
...or do we?
I won't list example after example of this, but the point I am attempting to make is that in the midst of technological revolution, the masses of humanity are becoming
(1) more naive and
(2) less literate.
This is my opinion only but I base it upon both personal observation and those statistics which attempt to measure such issues as literacy.
However, I also believe that the tide will turn as technology moves ever forward. It is just that we are passing through a bottleneck of unknown duration during which much nonsense continues to be widely believed in by a populace which remains vastly ignorant and functionally illiterate.
I have a good friend names McEwan who proposed many years ago to me what he (humbly) proclaimed as McEwan's Law:
Things happen exactly the way they must happen. This is applying the same perspective of technical analysis in the stock market, to politics. In other words, until there are motivations for politicians to overcome their current short term self interests, long term projects will tend to be shelved.
That includes, of course, cryonics.
What a surprise!
So what I am somewhat cynically suggesting is that there is no need to "worry" about the actions of any governing body as there truly is nothing that you can do about it. Form groups to politically overthrow the current political structure and the current realities of motivation will still undercut the most "sensible" schemes to transform the world.
Technology has given the modern world the gift of wealth. Technology will continue to advance and gradually change the rules of the game. When it is personally profitable for long term problems to be solved by politicians, they will solve them. Until then there really is nothing meaningful you can do about it.
My advice? Focus on the areas of your life you do have control over - such as cryonics. Sign yourself up. Try and convince others to sign up as well. That's my opinion.
by David Stodolsky < email@example.com >
An advanced society of intelligent beings will likely be "altruistic" due to shared kinship (which is understood) and the need for care of the young (and others during periods of sickness, etc.). This would be driven by evolution.
Due to the suppressive effects of Gama-Ray Bursts, we are likely to find civilizations more than 30,000 years advanced in other galaxies. Since, the ones in our galaxy would be on the average 30,000 light years away, their stage of development at the time a broadcast intended for reception by SETI was sent would be the same as ours, given the time it takes for a signal to get here.
A misbehaving civilization could cause problems for its galactic neighbours by triggering a Gamma-Ray Burst. One defence against this would be "armour," which would not be available to travellers and new colonies. Another would be messages designed to help new civilizations develop benevolent cultures. This would be much more effective, if it worked.
Solid research suggests that much inhumane behaviour is driven by death anxiety:
< http://www.ernestbecker.org >
So, dissemination of knowledge facilitating immortalization could be enlightened self-interest.
However, this type of knowledge might develop so fast that any civilization capable of receiving a message would likely also have perfected immortalization. It only took 161 years to go from cell theory to the gene map. Effective immortality is probably less than 50 years away. I guess the question is how many years between the ability to receive/decode a message and the development of effective immortality. Most likely, electron microscopes, communication and information technology, etc. are needed to perfect immortality. Thus, message reception capability would always come on-line prior to immortalization. But the message format would have to be "easy," if there was going to be any impact on the problem of immortality. Have there been any studies of dependencies between communication and life-science technologies?
Even if a civilization decided to use Gamma-Ray Bursts to clear its galaxy of potential competitors (by nudging neutron stars or black holes onto a collision course), it still could value communication with extra-galactic civilizations in dealing with really hard problems. The average hostility of intelligent civilizations could be tested by measuring the frequency of Gamma-Ray Bursts. If Bursts are being used in an offensive manner, it should be possible to detect that their frequency is above the chance level. Of course, there is a complication that galaxies of friendly civilizations would reduce the frequency of Bursts, Universe-wide. This, of course, offers another reason for galactic cooperation: making sure that potential Bursts are avoided by intervention of those nearby. According to recent work, a Burst in our own galaxy is overdue, so let's hope we live in a friendly one. It looks like any observational tests would take a long time, unless the tendency to control Bursts in predominantly friendly/unfriendly direction is dominant.
A civilization of immortals would want to eliminate the treat to their existence due to the running down of our Universe. We can conceive of a communication "network" dealing with this problem, since it is unlikely that a solution would only benefit a part of the Universe.
I will argue for a "transcendent," natural religion that would be adopted as obvious by all advanced civilizations. Religion is defined as a belief system assuming dependence on a power superior to natural law. The belief system will give guidelines for ethical behaviour. Are we limited to this Universe? If the "we" is human beings, then it seems we are limited to this reality/universe. But if the "we" is a transcendent intelligence of which humanity is or can be a part of, then all bets are off.
We regard our physical laws as an instance of all possible realities, which we just happen to have due to the conditions at the moment of formation of our Universe. It may be possible to create new universes with different physical laws:
and it is argued that successful industrial civilizations will eventually create black holes (baby universes). SeePossible Implications of the Quantum Theory of Gravity, An Introduction to the Meduso-Anthropic Principle by Louis Crane.
< http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/hep-th/9402104 >
This is a nontechnical paper about how the activities of technological civilizations could influence the evolution of baby universes. The Meduso-Anthropic Principle refers to certain life forms which are vastly different at different stages of development, such as corals and jelly fish. In this case a universe is a "meduso" stage which gives rise to the "anthropic" stage, intelligent life, which in turn produces new universes, and so on. Thus, intelligent life transcends physical law in the cosmos as a whole. Our Universe could be a black hole in an other universe created by intelligent life there. This should induce a reverence for intelligent life!
The guideline for behaviour we can derive from this is that humanity better develop the ability to produce black holes, if we want to function as first class citizens of the cosmos. This is a non-trivial task, that will take a while. One approach is to capture the entire output of the Sun and redirect the energy to a sphere of ultra-high energy lasers. They would fire at the same time and a black hole would appear at the beam-crossing point. Black holes make ideal power sources, all matter dumped into them is converted to energy. Now, where do we get that spare Sun?
Could we even play a role in production or stabilization of our own Universe? That is, be crucial actors in a "loop" of universes including our own? Now we are getting speculative, butOn a General Class of Wormhole Geometries(DeBenedictis & Da) gives "an example which demonstrates how multiple closed universes may be connected."
< http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/gr-qc/0009072 >
by Ed Tandy
Originally published in Venturist Voice, Summer 1986.
Reprinted by permission of The Venturists.
Nicholas Fyodorovich Fyodorov, although he was highly praised by such people as Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy (literature), Afanasi Fet (poetry), Vladimir Solovyov (philosophy) and Konstantin Tsiolkowsky (astronautics) he is virtually unknown to the western world.
Fyodorov, a 19th-century Russian, formulated an immortalist philosophy from a Christian perspective. Bastard born in 1828 of Prince P. I. Gagarin and a woman of non-nobility, Nicholas (with his mother and her other children) had to leave his father's home at age four, do to the prince's death. The family continued to be well-cared for, however. Fyodorov studied law, though for only three tears, then began fourteen gears of wanderings in seven cities, teaching in elementary schools.. . In 1868 he began 25 years as a librarian with the Rumyantseu Museum. After retiring, and until his death in 1903, he worked in the Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Throughout much of his adult life he lived almost ascetically. He resided in a tiny room where he slept only four or five hours daily on a hump-backed trunk. He often went for months without eating any hot food. He did not want to possess any property and never owned even a winter overcoat. He considered fame immodest. He turned down proposed salary increases; nevertheless he often assisted needy scholars with his own funds (which one might have supposed to be nonexistent).
Fyodorov wrote much but was not interested in publication nor in writing to be easily understood. He was largely unknown to his contemporaries. His works, published posthumously, were (in proper spirit) available only free of charge from the publishers, who renounced all rights. Little on or by him seems available in English even today. He is not even listed in the indexes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica or the Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, to cite only two examples. (Others are too numerous to mention -- see the bibliography at the end of this article for English language references.)
2. Fyodorov's Basic Idea
Fyodorov, due to his Christian perspective, found the widespread lack of love among people appalling. He divided these non-loving relations into two kinds. One is alienation among people: "non-kindred relations of people among themselves". The other is isolation of the living from the dead: "nature's non-kindred relation to men". "Man must not live for him self alone (egoism) nor only for others (altruism) but with all men and for all men." Fyodorov is referring to all people of all time (past, present, future). He is speaking of a project to unite humankind, the colonization ("spiritualisation") of the universe, the quest for the Kingdom of God, the creation of cosmos from chaos, the death of death, even the resurrection of the dead. Fyodorov believed, and passionately felt, that resignation in the face of death and separation of knowledge from action was false Christianity. He cautioned against being fooled into worshipping the blind forces of Satan. Rather, one should actively participate in changing what is into what ought to be. Let us now look at Fyodorov's views on various topics.
3. On History
"History is (in essence) a ravaging of nature and an annihilation of men by one another". Genuine loving relations or true human community would produce people interested in using science to overcome death and to populate, regulate, and transform "all of the worlds of thp universe". "It was for this that man was created" "Our attitude toward history should not be 'objective', i.e., nonparticipating, nor 'subjective', i.e., inwardly sympathetic, but 'projective', i.e., making knowledge 'a project for a better world'''. "In man nature herself has become aware of the evil of death, aware of its own imperfection". In history "mankind is summoned to be God's instrument" in the salvation of the world.
4 On The Military-Industrial Complex
"At the present time everything serves war; there is no discovery which military men have not
studied with a view to its military applications . ... Man has apparently done all the evil that
he could, both to nature (attrition, devastation, depredation) and to other men . ... The very
arteries of communication serve only for strategy or commerce, for war or profiteering."
5. The Two Classes
The division between the learned and the unlearned was, in Fyodorov's view, worse than the separation of the rich and the poor. The unlearned are more concerned with work than thought. The learned (philosophers and scientists) are less concerned with work than thought. The learned seem unaware that ideas "are not subjective, nor are they objective; they are projective". Philosophers and scientists, because they have separated ideas from moral action, are simply slaves to the imperfect present order. It is a root dogma of the learned that paradise is not possible. The unlearned should demand that the learned (because only they have the necessary knowledge) become a temporary task force for the Kingdom of God. The learned, however, will attempt to persuade us that problems like crop failures, disease, and death are not general questions but matters for a narrow discipline, questions for only a very small (or nonexistent) minority of the learned. Separation of the learned from the masses turns them into a seemingly permanent class, producing non lovers of humankind. The "trans formation of the blind course of nature into one that is rational ... is bound to appear to the learned as a disruption of order, although this order of theirs brings only disorder among men, striking them down with famine, plague, and death".
6. Energy and the Environment
Looking into the hoped-for future, Fyodorov saw we would relatively soon regulate the weather, the physical environment in which we live, and later the motions of the planets and even other star systems. He advocated replacing the mining of coal with wind and sun power.
7. Birth, Death and Resurrection
Parents give their lives to the raising of their children. Children should devote their lives to the raising of the dead. "Death is a triumph of blind, nonmoral power"; "a man who would not return life to those from whom he received it is not worthy of life or freedom." Fyodorov thought of "replacing childbirth by the raising of the dead". In redirecting the "unconscious process of birth into a universal resurrection", "mankind can make all worlds support life." No doubt (Woody Allen would be pleased to know) "the actualization of this project would demonstrate that life is not an accidental or useless gift". According to Fyodorov, science will mean "control over all the molecules and atoms of the world, in order to collect what is dispersed, to unite what is disintegrated, i.e., to create our forefathers in bodily form".
A citizen, a comrade, or a team-member can be replaced by another. However a person loved,
one's kin, is irreplaceable. Moreover, memory of one's dead kin is not the same as the real
person. Pride in one's forefathers is a vice, a form of egotism. On the other hand love of one's
forefathers means sadness in their death, requiring the literal raising of the dead. Politics
must be replaced by physics. The politics of egoism and altruism must be replaced by
Christianity which "knows only all men". Pride is a Tower of Babel which separates us from
one another. Love is a "fusion as opposed to a confusion".
The desire for cessation of activity in old age ... is not humility before the Divine" but Satan-worship . "Regardless of wars, our real enemy remains (for the time being) the blind, death-dealing power legalized by" social Darwinism (`only the fit ought to survive') "The true relation of a rational creature to the irrational power" of nature "is that of the regulation of a natural process". "No matter how deep the causes of mortality may be, mortality is not primordial; it is not an unconditional necessity. The blind power in whose dependence a rational creature finds himself can itself be controlled by reason."
For Fyodorov, "complete and universal salvation" is preferable to "incomplete or non-universal salvation in which some men -- the sinners -- are condemned to eternal torments and others -- the righteous -- to an eternal contemplation of these torments". That is to say, Fyodorov's bold science project, "the common task", is not the only possible route to salvation. "Salvation may also occur without the participation of men ... if they do not unite in the common task"; "if we do not unite to accomplish our salvation, if we do not accept the Gospel message", then a "purely transcendent resurrection will save only the elect; for the rest it will be an expression of God's wrath", "eternal punishment". "I believe this literally". "Christianity has not fully saved the world, because it has not been fully assimilated." 'Christianity 'is not simply a doctrine of redemption, but the very task of redemption'.
9. An Epilogue
Many of the small number of philosophers familiar with Fyodorov admit his originality, his independence, his human concern, perhaps even his logic -- up to a point. But at some point (there is disagreement as to where) these same philosophers state matter-of-factly that Fyodorov has slipped into fantasy or magic. Too, Fyodorov's thoughts have been variously described as bold, culminating, curious, easily-misunderstood, extreme, hazy, idealist, naive, of-value, scientifico-magical, special, unexpected, unique, and utopian. Per haps all would agree, however, on his single-mindedness. Looked at positively, this is simply another term for purity-of-heart, a quality of saintliness. Fyodorov is not speaking of fantasy or magic. Rather, he is speaking from faith, from hope, from love. From such a perspective, Fyodorov's pure heart and clear mind perceives nothing as impossible. (What better perspective than this ought one to choose?)
There are similarities between Fyodorov's thoughts and the recent reflections of Jose Ortega
Y Gasset in his The Origin of Philosophy, published posthumously. In the unfinished book we
find the following: 'Man is able to predict more and more of the future, and hence 'eternalize'
himself more in that dimension. Meanwhile, he has also attained greater possession of his
past." "Man is thus now on the brink of increasing his measure of 'eternity'." in the final
paragraph of the book: "People glibly repeat that philosophy is a questioning of Being. As is
questioning oneself about such an irregular persona were the most natural thing in the world .
... It does not seem likely that this is what men who had lost faith in the gods and were
discontent with nature should set out initially to seek. Perhaps Being at that time did not
instigate the primordial question. Perhaps Being was an answer."
Compare this with Fyodorov's criticism of philosophers: "How unnatural it is to ask, 'Why does that which exist, exist?' and yet how completely natural it is to ask, 'Why do the living die?''' And perhaps Fyodorov is anticipating R. Buckminster Fuller when he says: "The need for forced labour for the sake of universal comfort is an anomaly - even if this labour is equally distributed".
Fyodorov anticipates Harvard philosophy professor John Rawls when he says: "By refusing to grant ourselves the right to set ourselves apart ... we are kept from setting any goal for ourselves that is not the common task of all".
Rawls, like Fyodorov, opposes both utilitarianism and intuitionism. And Rawls, in his A Theory of Justice, [after the fact] anticipates Fyodorov's broader theory of love when he ends his recent book as follows: "Thus what we are doing is to combine into one conception the totality of conditions that we are ready upon due reflection to recognize as reasonable in our conduct with regard to one another . ... all persons ... even ... persons who are not contemporaries but who belong to many generations.
Thus to see our place in society from the perspective of this position is ... to regard the human
situation not only from all social but also from all temporal points of view. The perspective of eternity is not a perspective from a certain place beyond the world, nor the point of view of a transcendent being; rather it is a certain form of thought and feeling that rational persons can adopt within the world . ... Purity of heart, if one could attain it, would be to see clearly and to act with grace and self-command from this point of view."
Fyodorov goes beyond Rawls: "The question of the individual" -"a son of all his dead forefathers, and not a vagabond in a crowd" -"is resolved only in the doctrine of relatedness." Fyodorov states that sonship does not have to be literally true in order for the doctrine of relatedness to be morally correct -- just as Rawls states that the social contract does not have to be literal history in order for his theory of justice to be philosophically compelling.
In Fyodorov's final analysis, a Christian is necessarily an immortalist -- an immortalist not merely in theory and imagination, but in fact and deed. So we ask: Have we in fact made any real progress since Fyodorov's time? Fyodorov described the 19th century as "a direct consequence of the dividing of what is heavenly from what is earthly, of the complete distortion of Christianity, whose Covenant involves precisely the uniting of the heavenly and the earthly, the divine and human. The universal immanent raising of the dead, a task pursued with all one's heart, with all one's mind, with all one's actions -- a raising of the dead accomplished by means of all the powers and capabilities of all the sons of man, such is the fulfilment of this Covenant of Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man."
Have we made any real progress since Fyodorov's time? Fyodorov would have considered another question more important: What are the sons of man doing now in quest of the kingdom of God? In spite of this more important question, we nevertheless note that our first man in space orbited the earth in 1961 as if by magic. In fact, his name was Gagarin -- the name of Fyodorov's father.
1. Berdyaev, N. A. The Russian Idea. (1948).
2. Berdyaev, N. A. N. F. Fyodorov. The Russian Review 9 (1950.
3. Edie, J. M., Scanlan, J. P., Zeldin, M., and Kline, G. L. (eds) Russian Philosophy (1965).
4. Lossky, N. O. History of Russian Philosophy (1951).
5. Zenkovsky, V. V. A History of Russian Philosophy (1953).
Mike Perry's further comments:
(Mike Perry was editor of Venturist Voice)
One important additional reference in English on Fyodorov is N. F. Fyodorov's Philosophy of Physical Resurrection by Taras Zakgdalsky (Ph.D. thesis, Bryn Mawr, 1976, available from University NiProfilms, Ann Arbor, MI, USA).
It is worth emphasizing that, as Zakydalsky points out, the central feature of Fyodorov's philosophy is the immanent, physical and universal resurrection of the dead. This resurrection is to be accomplished through purely scientific rather than supernatural means. Though the existence of supernatural powers (such as the Christian Trinity) is not denied their role, at best, is seen as inspirational and not participatory. For Fyodorov it was essential that the resurrection be immanent rather than transcendent. Otherwise man's intelligence and power to act are superfluous, and if, on the other hand, the resurrection is not to occur in the present world but in some mystical heaven, then the world as we know it is a mistake. Fyodorov imagined that the resurrection would be a great moral project uniting all of mankind in a common brotherhood. Even the most evil men would eventually be restored and cured of their harmful nature. Evil is caused by blindness and can be cured by enlightenment, through human effort.
The physical resurrection is to be brought about by restoring the body to a condition that existed prior to death. A person is made up of atoms, and when a person dies these (finitely many) particles are scattered. Resurrection of the person occurs as a consequence of restoring the atoms to their previous arrangement. To carry out the resurrection it is necessary to determine what this arrangement was and then to reposition the particles. This is a problem to be solved by science rather than by appeals to an outside power.
Fyodorov envisioned at least two possible mechanisms for carrying out the physical resurrection. The first involved tracking atoms backward in time to determine the arrangements they occupied in the past. If measurements of position, velocity, etc., could be made accurately enough (and this was not known to be impossible to 19th century physics), it should be possible to determine the necessary configurations, much as the dates of ancient solar eclipses can be deduced from modern astronomical measurements. The second mechanism involved the assumption that atoms, like pebbles, contained distinguishing marks or features so that no two were exactly alike. Each person, then, would contain a distinctive mix of atoms, and the task of determining which atoms were the correct ones would be made easier.
The question arises of to what extent Fyodorov's project could be carried out. If the dead are well-enough preserved it should be possible to restore them to life someday, when the necessary technology is at hand.. This is the central tenet of cryonics, in which it appears that, for the preservation to be adequate, low-temperature freezing is necessary. For the dead who are not frozen and whose remains are allowed to disintegrate the problems are much more serious. We now have good reason to think that the past is not simply deducible from present observations in the manner that might have seemed plausible to a 19th-century physicist. Atoms do not appear to contain distinctive markings but like atoms are interchangeable. Information can be lost as well as created. At the very least this would enormously complicate the task of reconstructing a person whose body had disintegrated. It would appear to require some exhaustive enumeration of possible bodies so that the correct structure would only be obtained eventually, by accident. It would not be knowable to the outsider at what point a specific resurrection had occurred, or whether a given, living body was in fact a given person, resurrected. (And, since the same matter must have occurred in more than one person it would be necessary, after a living body is created, to replace its matter with matter that could not have been part of another human body, for example, extraterrestrial matter. The old matter could then be reused in other resurrections.)
The problem could be simplified somewhat if we only required recovery of the pattern of information that characterized the person, rather than the identical particles in their identical arrangement. (This lesser requirement would be far more reasonable, in mg view. In fact a case could be made that a particle has no "identity" in an absolute sense. Moreover there is reason to believe that particles would not be stable enough to persist in their original form for the amount of time that would be needed for a bodily resurrection.) It would then be sufficient to assemble similar particles in an identical arrangement, and probably a considerable deviation from the original could be allowed, so long as psychological features (memories, personality traits, etc.) remained essentially the same. This again, however, would involve an exhaustive enumeration, with time an exponential in the (considerable) quantity of information needed to describe the person. It would be a project not for our time nor any future we can easily imagine, but for an age inconceivably beyond our own. Still it does not seem logically impossible, if in some way infinite space and time are available.
Further Reading in Longevity Report
Jesus Was an Immortalist Dr Thomas Donaldson Longevity Report 33, June 1992
by Lee Corbin < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Is it really true that people cannot live without the Earth? Yes, immense difficulties have so far attended all the projects that have tried to create independent self-sustaining habitats for human beings, but isn't it simply a question of when such projects will succeed?
Were the Earth to be utterly destroyed in one hundred years by a moon-sized asteroid, I think that humanity would survive, even if we were -- unaccountably -- limited to our current form. Much sooner than that, the technology will exist to allow ordinary people to live elsewhere. But then this implies that the much vaunted dependency of humanity upon our natural environment is frequently overstated.
Moreover, there is the moral perspective. While many praise Nature's terrible wastefulness, profligacy, and endless cycles of large animals hunting down and chewing up small animals, we should praise instead our human moral ideals. We alone can envision a world in which ideas may die, but where creatures never suffer or die.
What can be more important than the experiences of living beings? As for now, Nature (or Nature's God) has not done a very compassionate job for our planet's living populations. The pain and pleasure, happiness and despair, and success and failure of living creatures has evidently been normalized to provide for maximum reproductive success. But we can choose instead to arrange for immense joy, contentment, happiness, fulfilment, satisfaction and immortality to be life's norms. There isn't any reason why over the course of the next million years the solar system can't spring to life with vastly more living matter---matter which can benefit from existence infinitely more than the one ten-billionth of the Earth's mass (our biosphere) presently does. (See http://www.hedweb.com for The Hedonistic Imperative.)
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