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Author Topic: Altering your own body, or completely scrapping it.  (Read 717 times)

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Offline RegularRaskolnikovTopic starter

Altering your own body, or completely scrapping it.
« on: November 30, 2010, 10:01:37 AM »
Hello to all.

I was recently reading a fascinating article in a magazine titled "The Human Mind". I think it was a special edition or something. I'm not sure there's actually a magazine that's called that. Anyway, that isn't the point.

The article was discussing the advent of Nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is basically the integration of microscopic, self-replicating machines that could be integrated into the human body. Apparently we're not too far off from actually having this technology. Basically we're talking about specialized cells that can be designed to perform any number of previously impossible functions from increasing brain capacity to actually fighting the effects of aging. While the exciting theories therein are only pure speculation at this point the subject has still got me thinking. I'm not wondering so much about the "why" or "how" but the "should".

Is it crossing a line to render oneself virtually immortal? Such technology would surely be expensive. Would we suddenly have a wealthy ruling class of people who made societal and political decisions for potentially centuries? I myself am caught between the desire for long life and power and some old-fashioned ideals of letting nature run her own course.

I've come to respect the people on these forums more than most other groups of people (excluding only a very tight-knit group of friends and family members). So, I want the opinion of anyone willing to share it.

If you could alter your body in any conceivable way you chose, would you do it? To include completely replacing your soft, fleshy body with an amalgamation of synthetic ageless flesh or metal alloy. What would you do to yourself? Should you? Should we even consider what some would consider an aggregious insult to the figure (outdated and obsolete to some) who we call God, Allah, Buddha, or whatever diving forces that may be? Even the processes of nature itself that have gone on, uninterrupted for aeons.

What could the effects be on society, politics, and even our own morality?

I just wanted to hear some opinions on this. I've got my own, but I crave discussion on this topic!

Thanks for reading!


Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Altering your own body, or completely scrapping it.
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2010, 10:29:32 AM »
I don't think it crosses any particular lines. We are constantly crawling towards a longer lifespan as it is. You have to remember that we have more than doubled life expectancy within the last century. This trend is not exactly new.

However, I would check your article's references. Immortality, virtual or otherwise, is not going to be achieved through nano-technology. We will manage to eek more years of life out of it (for instance, there are incredibly effective cancer therapies being derived using nano-machines), but we are already at the point of reaching multiple limits simultaneously, and for each one we overcome efficiency goes down further until a mechanical solution becomes impractical. For all real processes: dS>0. A good example here is reactive oxygen damage, we can keep developing anti-oxidants, but some will slip through the cracks, it is inherent in the system.

This is not to even mention that immortality puts one in a stagnant state that will inevitably come across a lethal change in environment.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2010, 10:30:45 AM by DarklingAlice »

Offline RegularRaskolnikovTopic starter

Re: Altering your own body, or completely scrapping it.
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2010, 11:54:16 AM »
Ah! Very true. I should state immediately that the article did not contemplate the idea of immortality directly. That part was conjecture on my part to discern moral implications. I understand that humans cannot possibly hope to become immortal through nanotechnology.

Also, the idea that an immortal human would become stagnant and obsolete in a changing society. As I stated before I hypothesize that any humans who would receive this nano-treatment would probably have to be wealthy. I can't imagine any insurance company who would consider nano-treatment as "necessary surgery" or what have you. Therefore, the masses would most likely NOT have access to the technology.

Let's say that society were controlled. Perhaps these longer-living individuals would never become stagnant because these are people who control (directly or indirectly) broad social trends. I, personally, do not consider ideological trends to be entirely autonomous. Something influences them. Yes, this is paranoid conjecture, but I believe that the argument has merit. My point is this: If the ruling class were able to live thrice as long as the working class then wouldn't they be able to manipulate these trends through information control and the overwhelming advantage granted by their finances and their experience? Who's to say that this "immortal class" couldn't dictate the world?

Mind you, I'm only playing devil's advocate. Obviously, there's always an x-factor. It's entirely plausible that the working class would eventually catch wind of being manipulated. Still, if the working class were being placated then why would they want to override the trends created by privileged rulers? That is supposing that the ruling parties would bother to placate the masses (and I think they would). In that sense I believe the world would evolve with this hypothetical "ageless" ruling class and wouldn't necessarily be left behind.

Of course, that's all conjecture.

« Last Edit: November 30, 2010, 12:04:07 PM by RegularRaskolnikov »

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Altering your own body, or completely scrapping it.
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2010, 09:18:44 PM »
Historically, the wealthier class does live longer. That hasn't always resulted in an ironclad grip or stopped proletariat revolution. While theoretically possible, I am unsure how long such a state could be practically maintained. Even today we can see the difficulty that older generations have with technological and social change, it seems likely that this trend would only extend over time.

Regardless, that wasn't the type of stagnation or environmental change I was referring to. Biological considerations trump (and in a number of cases even motivate) sociological ones, and those can't be controlled for.