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The Ethics of Life Extension

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Title: The Ethics of Life Extension


1
The Ethics of Life Extension
  • Bob Brown Rafael Villa-Angulo
  • Bio-Ethics with Professor Solka
  • 20 February 2007

2
Agenda
  • Topic introduction
  • Approaches to extending life
  • Advantages and disadvantages of methods
  • Ethics areas of consideration
  • Conclusions and quotes

3
The Life Extension Ethics Question
  • Should technologies that
  • radically extend the human lifespan
  • be allowed to be employed?

4
Robert Freitas estimates that
  • Eliminating a specific list comprising 50 of
    medically preventable conditions, would extend
    human life expectancy to over 150 years.
  • By preventing 90 of medical problems, life
    expectancy could extend to over 500 years.
  • At 99 solved, wed be able to live for over
    1,000 years.
  • Biotechnology and nanotechnology revolutions will
    enable us to eliminate virtually all medical
    causes of death. (Nanomedicine)

5
Biomedical Gerontologists
  • Seek to understand the nature of aging and
    develop treatments to reverse aging processes, or
    to at least slow them down, for the improvement
    of health and the maintenance of youthful vigor
    at every stage of life.
  • Believing tissue rejuvenation with stem cells,
    organs replacement, and molecular repair will
    eliminate all aging and disease allowing to
    complete rejuvenation to a youthful condition.

6
Methods to Extending Life
  • Cure diseases and stop the aging process
  • Artificial organs with nanomaterials or superior
    materials
  • Significant body organ replacement
  • SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible
    Senescence) is a program initiated by Aubrey de
    Grey,
  • Mind Uploading-- The concept is based on
    materialism, the philosophy of mind that argues
    that the human spirit is entirely composed of a
    very complex system of physical and chemical
    interactions. 1

7
Anti-Life Extension Viewpoint
  • Leon Kass (chairman of the US President's Council
    on Bioethics from 2001 to 2005) exemplifies the
    anti-life extension view
  • "simply to covet a prolonged life span for
    ourselves is both a sign and a cause of our
    failure to open ourselves to procreation and to
    any higher purpose. The desire to prolong
    youthfulness is not only a childish desire to eat
    ones life and keep it it is also an expression
    of a childish and narcissistic wish incompatible
    with devotion to posterity.6

8
Europes Enhance Initiative
  • The Centre for Ethics in Medicine was founded in
    1998
  • To document current and imminent scientific
    advances that may enhance human capacities in
    cognition, mood, physical performance (in sport)
    and ageing.
  • To evaluate these advances from a philosophical,
    ethical and social perspective.
  • To facilitate policy-making to the emerging
    dual-use technologies.
  • To promote public understanding of dual-use
    technologies and the ethical debate.
  • Duration 24 month (started October 2005)
  • Coordinating institution Centre for Ethics in
    medicine, University of Bristol

9
Discussion Topics
  • Nanotechnology
  • Cryogenics
  • Body part replacement
  • Mind Uploading
  • Cyborg citizens

10
The most promising is Nanomedicine
  • Nanomedicine is the medical application of
    nanotechnology and related research. It covers
    areas such as nanoparticle drug delivery and
    possible future applications of molecular
    nanotechnology (MNT) and nanovaccinology.

11
Advantages of Nanomedicine
  • Extremely bad conditions (as cancer) will be
    treated easily by modifying the bodys genetic
    material.
  • Disease elimination will become normal, so we no
    longer will need to be worry about living with
    heath conditions.
  • Diagnose diseases before there are any symptoms.
  • Administer drugs that are precisely targeted.
  • Use non-invasive imaging tools to demonstrate
    that the treatment was effective.

12
Disadvantages for Nanomedicine
  • What if the modification has unintended
    consequences for the person or society?
  • What if we lose control of the nanoparticles?
  • What if society determines everyone needs a
    certain modification?
  • How do we deal with overpopulation?
  • How does society ensure the Government doesnt
    use our money to research methods that are not in
    the best interests of the citizens?

13
Cryonics
  • At cryogenic temperatures there will be no
    alteration in biological tissue for thousands of
    years, which allows plenty of time for future
    life extension technologies to be available.

14
Advantages of cryonics
  • A complete body or organ can be preserved for
    hundreds or thousands of years
  • There is a strong belief that in a no longer
    future technology and medicine will be available
    to restore damage and successfully revive
    cryopreserved patients

15
Disadvantages to Cryonics
  • It leaves the loves ones in limbo.
  • What will it be like to acclimate to a new
    society?
  • How does one just plug back in?
  • What about the massive knowledge disconnect?
  • What if your home was in Yugoslavia?
  • What if the firm goes belly-up whom is
    responsible?
  • What if the procedure is only partly successful,
    and you do not come back as a useful member of
    society?

16
Body parts replacement
  • Biotechnology, particularly those of human
    cloning and stem cell research, are though to
    offer some possibility of replacing aging body
    parts with new parts grown artificially.

17
Advantages of Body Part Replacement
  • Artificial organs will be implanted using
    nanotech devices that use the bodys own energy
    supply - - glucose and oxygen - - for power.
  • Individuals brain will be transplanted from his
    or her aging body into a new, youthful body
    cloned from his or her own tissue.

18
Disadvantages to Body Part Replacement
  • Has been evolving over many centuries.
  • Wood teeth, hook or stump, to artificial heart
    limbs
  • Seems straight-forward when replacing a body-part
    with something lesser or equivalent to the
    original.
  • What about body-parts that are implanted just
    because the are superior?
  • On demand farming of organs or yours stockpiled
    is case of emergency soldier
  • What do we do with the ones not used?
  • Where do we draw the line on something being a
    part verses a cloned body?

19
Mind uploading
  • Concept based on materialism, the philosophy of
    mind that argues that human spirit is entirely
    composed of a very complex system of physical and
    chemical interactions.
  • Uploading a human brain means scanning all of
    its salient details and then reinstantiating them
    into a suitably powerful computational substrate.

20
Advantages of Mind uploading
  • This process would capture a persons entire
    personality, memory, skills, and history
  • It is possible by first interfacing biological
    human brains with computer parts, and the gradual
    replacement of biological components with
    mechanical ones
  • Immortality will be possible

21
Disadvantages to Mind Uploads
  • When is this be allowed to occur - only at death?
  • How does one, and their family, prepare for the
    change that is going to occur?
  • What if you spend your last dime to perform this
    procedure and you were in retirement?
  • Will companies be willing or required to hire
    people that are not completely human?
  • Can you perform this procedure again, when a
    better model of cyborg comes along?
  • Trade-in like a car

22
Cyborg Citizens 1.0 Silicon and Beyond
  • Hondas Asimo robot
  • Neurons on a chip
  • Some estimate that by 2020 computers shall be
    able to perform Human thought.5
  • Transfer knowledge, experience, and emotional
    state to a cyborg?
  • At what point is it that you are no longer a
    human?
  • Like cars with the foreign content exceeds x?
  • Fido transfer the pets emotional state to a
    robo-pet

23
Advantages of Cyborg Citizens
  • They will be the next step in human evolution
  • Super capacity of memory, thinking, intelligence,
    and forever young
  • They will open the door to the next step in
    universe evolution. Same process but applied to
    universe (cyber universe)

24
Disadvantages of Cyborg Citizens
  • They can continue to evolve like computers with
    no known upper-bound
  • Accelerated evolution forget 20 years/generation
    think 18 months/generation
  • When is automation deemed out-of-control?
  • When do we have to treat them a humans, because
    they are sentient beings?
  • They will be able to perform duties faster,
    better, and cheaper than people. What will
    people do to make money?

25
Ethics Areas of Consideration
26
Personal
  • Quality of life vs. extending life
  • The number of years ones should have to work
  • Marriage(s) and the extended family
  • Kids, Grandkids, Grandkids cubed
  • Personal cost of procedures
  • Tweak broken psychological traits
  • Experiences, viewpoints, genetic tendencies
  • Moving into another body
  • Affect on you and your family

27
Legal
  • When is you no longer you?
  • If you perform a mind upload to more than one
    being.
  • When is death, e.g. if cryogenics can work?
  • What is Life in prison?
  • Do we just change their mind or body?
  • How does society price the loss of life in a
    negligence suit?
  • Laws with a blend of citizens being -- flesh and
    blood vs. humanoid vs. everything in between?

28
Financial
  • Cost to society vs funding other priorities
  • If more money can be made extending life vs
    finding cures for diseases
  • Rich versus Poor societies and people
  • Forget the inheritance
  • How long is Society willing to cover people no
    longer able to cover their own expenses?
  • Will the great-great-great grandkids help out?

29
Religion Philosophy
  • If one can live 100s of years when does one get
    to the after-life?
  • How much time will people spend worrying about
    the after-life?
  • How will peoples morals change if they know they
    are not dying for 100s of years?
  • At what point are we playing GOD?

30
Societal
  • Issues of an older society
  • What will define old age? Will anyone be in an
    old body?
  • Jobs work for 80 of your life?
  • Society is allowed to evolve when people die and
    the issues can be reshaped e.g. racism
  • Redefine schooling new slant on continuous
    education
  • What will we need to know in 100 years cant
    program the VCR
  • Knowledge pack downloads to stay current

31
Political Nationalism
  • What will be the political leaning of extremely
    older people?
  • What laws will they want passed?
  • How does this impact Nations with issues about
    prior wrongs e.g. slavery
  • The have and have-not societies
  • What if different countries allow different
    amounts of life extending capabilities to be used?

32
Environmental
  • Impact on natural resources
  • Impact on population growth rates
  • Can we start out by extending the life of pets?
  • Suggestion allow people to only be 4 ft tall

33
  • The only things we can be sure of,
  • so the saying goes,
  • are death and taxes
  • - but dont be too sure about death.
  • - Joseph Strout, Neuroscientist

34
Immortality first! Everything else can wait. -
Corwyn Prater
35
References
1 Kurzweil Ray. The Singularity is Near when
humans transcend biology. Viking Penguin 2005.
New York, NY. 2 Aging Research Center
(http//www.arclab.org) 3 Nanotechnology and
Life Extension (http//www.xenophilia.org/nano_lif
e_extension.html) 4 Silver M. Lee. Challenging
Nature. HarperCollins Publishers. 2006. Ney
York, NY. 5 Wikipedia.org 6 Kass, Leon
(1988). Toward a More Natural Science. Free
Press. 7 Enhance Bioethics Effort
http//www.enhanceproject.org
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