Archive for the ‘life extension’ category: Page 449

Apr 12, 2013

Killing Deathist Cliches: “Death Gives Meaning to Life” is Meaningless!

Posted by in categories: ethics, life extension, philosophy

Le Petit Trépas

One common argument against Radical Life Extension is that a definitive limit to one’s life – that is, death – provides some essential baseline reference, and that it is only in contrast to this limiting factor that life has any meaning at all. In this article I refute the argument’s underlying premises, and then argue that even if such premises were taken as true, its conclusion – that eradicating death would negate the “limiting factor” that legitimizes life — is also invalid.

Death gives meaning to life? No! Death makes life meaningless!

One version of the argument, which I’ve come across in a variety of places, is given in Brian Cooney’s Posthuman, an introductory philosophical text that uses various futurist scenarios and concepts to illustrate the broad currents of Western Philosophy. Towards the end he makes his argument against immortality, claiming that if we had all the time in the universe to do what we wanted, then we wouldn’t do anything at all. Essentially, his argument boils down to ‘if there is no possibility of not being able to do something in the future, then why would we ever do it?”.

This assumes that we make actions on the basis of not being able to do them again. But people don’t make decisions this way. We didn’t go out to dinner because the restaurant was closing down… we went out for dinner because we wanted to go out for dinner… I think that Cooney’s version of the argument is naïve. We don’t make the majority of our decisions by contrasting an action to the possibility of not being able to do it in future.

His argument seems to be that if there were infinite time then we would have no way of prioritizing our actions. If we had a list of all possible actions set before us, and time were limitless, we might (according to his logic) accomplish all the small, negligible things first, because they’re easier and all the hard things can wait. If we had all the time in the world, we would have no reference point with which to judge how important a given action or objective is, which ones it is most important to get done, and which ones should get done in the place of other possibilities. If we really can do every single thing on that listless list, then why bother, if each is as important as every other? In his line-of-reasoning, importance requires scarcity. If we can do everything it were possible to do, then there is nothing that determines one thing as being more important than another. A useful analogy might be that current economic definitions of value require scarcity. If everything were as abundant as everything else, if nothing were scarce, then we would have no way of ascribing economic value to a given thing, such that one thing has more economic value than another. What we sometimes forget is that ecologies aren’t always like economies.

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Apr 11, 2013

The Life Extension Hubris: Why biotechnology is unlikely to be the answer to ageing

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, evolution, futurism, homo sapiens, life extension

It is often said that empiricism is one of the most useful concepts in epistemology. Empiricism emphasises the role of experience acquired through one’s own senses and perceptions, and is contrary to, say, idealism where concepts are not derived from experience, but based on ideals.

In the case of radical life extension, there is a tendency to an ‘idealistic trance’ where people blindly expect practical biotechnological developments to be available and applied to the public at large within a few years. More importantly, idealists expect these treatments or therapies to actually be effective and to have a direct and measurable effect upon radical life extension. Here, by ‘radical life extension’ I refer not to healthy longevity (a healthy life until the age of 100–120 years) but to an indefinite lifespan where the rate of age-related mortality is trivial.

Let me mention two empirical examples based on experience and facts:

1. When a technological development depends on technology alone, its progress is often dramatic and exponential.

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Apr 7, 2013

4 in 5 Americans Don’t Think That Death Exists?!

Posted by in category: life extension

heaven4 This essay was one of Transhumanity’s biggest hits last month, getting about 1200 hits in its first week, as well as 87 up-votes and 93 comments on Reddit within 2 days. A shortened version is currently the 3rd most-viewed article on ImmortalLife

“Our hope of immortality does not come from any religions, but nearly all religions come from that hope.” — Robert Green Ingersoll

Recent polls indicate that 80% of Americans and over 50% of global citizens believe in an afterlife. I argue that conceptions of death which include or allow for the possibility of an afterlife are not only sufficiently different from conceptions of death devoid of an afterlife as to necessitate that they be given their own term and separate designation, but that such afterlife-inclusive notions of death constitute the very antithesis of afterlife-devoid conceptions of death! Not only are they sufficiently different as to warrant their own separate designations, but afterlife-inclusive conceptions of death miss the very point of death – its sole defining attribute or categorical-qualifier as such. The defining characteristic is not its specific details (e.g. whether physical death counts as death if the mind isn’t physical, as in substance dualism); its defining characteristic is the absence of life and subjectivity. Belief in an afterlife is not only categorically dissimilar but actually antithetical to conceptions of death precluding an afterlife. Thus to believe in heaven is to deny the existence of death!

The fact that their belief involves metaphysical, rather than physical, continuation isn’t a valid counter-argument. To argue via mind-body dualism that the mind is metaphysical, and thus will continue on in a metaphysical realm (i.e. heaven), in this specific case makes no difference. Despite not being physical in such an argument, its relation to the metaphysical realm is the same as the relation of physical objects to the physical realm. It operates according to the “rules” and “causal laws” of the metaphysical realm, and so for all effective purposes can be considered physical in relation thereto, in the same sense that physical objects can be considered physical in relation to physical reality.

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Apr 4, 2013

An Open Letter to Death

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, homo sapiens, life extension, media & arts

lifebFreedom fironically found in flesh, not knowing whe’er I’m foul or fowl… tickly bound neath trickly form twisting and more unfresh as dawn upon dawn dies in menstrual skyfire like blood made light — a mocking microcosm of my own transubstantiation from rotting viscera to lightstorm infinity?

Just what sick joke is this? To wake and ache and dream and be and become! – and then to die..? To culminate the very universe itself!.. and then to simply die?! For what I ask you! What! Death… what audacious greed! What reckless squander and heedless extravagance!

Guttural red fringed black a bulbous muck death bastphelgmy! We cannot comprehend the sheer stature of death and so hurriedly cover the unknown with a word to hold it in hand and at a distance, to doubt no doubt.

O pallid heavens! O incessant sun undaunted by my barrenaked finitude! O fetid sanctity wet and redragged as the sickly bloom of jagged flesh! O putrid night sky serene despite my spat fury; as I ebb and ember a’roil withinside my sadness unbelieving and hysteric animal heat that vile sun and auster night jaunt their jeer and mock the rude squall of my panicstrewn death nonetheless.

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Mar 19, 2013

Ten Commandments of Space

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, biological, biotech/medical, cosmology, defense, education, engineering, ethics, events, evolution, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, habitats, homo sapiens, human trajectories, life extension, lifeboat, military, neuroscience, nuclear energy, nuclear weapons, particle physics, philosophy, physics, policy, robotics/AI, singularity, space, supercomputing, sustainability, transparency

1. Thou shalt first guard the Earth and preserve humanity.

Impact deflection and survival colonies hold the moral high ground above all other calls on public funds.

2. Thou shalt go into space with heavy lift rockets with hydrogen upper stages and not go extinct.

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Nov 13, 2012

The importance of using the correct terms

Posted by in categories: life extension, transparency

Humans have questioned death, and have searched for immortality since they first became conscious of the finiteness of life. Many modern humans are now confident (or at least hopeful) that it may be possible to achieve immortality, perhaps by using technological advances. This is a myth. It is against the laws of physics (think of entropy) for anyone to become immortal, so it will not happen.

Let me clarify what I mean. The term ‘immortal’ literally means someone who never dies, i.e. lives forever. But ‘forever’ means really forever, more than 50 trillion years, until the end of time. In the foreseeable future (the future which is relevant to us alive today) this is just plain nonsense. If the term is nonsense, then it should not be used. Better terms may be ‘longevity’, or ‘extreme lifespan’ which means to live for many years, without stipulating a number. Extreme longevity, or extreme life extension is not immortality. One may be able to live for 1000 years, and then still die. Another suitable term could be ‘indefinite lifespan’ which is the absence of a sustained increase of mortality as a function of age (i.e. it is the absence of death due to aging). These terms denote something feasible, something that can be achieved with the use of near-term future technology.

Another legitimate term to use is ‘Human Biological Immortality’. This is a strict term used in biology to refer to the decrease of the rate of cellular mortality as a function of age. It is, in other words, similar to the term ‘indefinite lifespan’. Here the emphasis is on indefinite, and not on infinite.

I believe that certain humans will be able to live indefinitely (50 years, 500 years, no a priori limit) and that this will happen after a combination of natural evolutionary events (https://acrobat.com/#d=MAgyT1rkdwono-lQL6thBQ) enhanced and accelerated by science and technology (http://hplusmagazine.com/2011/03/04/indefinite-lifespans-a-n…l-brain/). Death by aging will be abolished, and people will only die from accidents, illnesses etc. We will still be mortal.

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Oct 12, 2012

The Kline Directive: Safety Awareness

Posted by in categories: cosmology, defense, engineering, life extension, military, particle physics, physics, space, sustainability

To achieve interstellar travel, the Kline Directive instructs us to be bold, to explore what others have not, to seek what others will not, to change what others dare not. To extend the boundaries of our knowledge, to advocate new methods, techniques and research, to sponsor change not status quo, on 5 fronts:

1. Legal Standing. 2. Safety Awareness. 3. Economic Viability. 4. Theoretical-Empirical Relationship. 5. Technological Feasibility.

In this post I will explore Safety Awareness.

In the heady rush to propose academically acceptable ideas about new propulsions systems or star drives it is very easy to overlook safety considerations. The eminent cosmologist Carl Sagan said it best “So the problem is not to shield the payload, the problem is to shield the earth” (Planet. Space Sci., pp. 485 – 498, 1963)

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Sep 6, 2012

Flexible Path Flim Flam revised

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, biotech/medical, business, counterterrorism, defense, economics, education, engineering, ethics, events, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, habitats, human trajectories, life extension, lifeboat, media & arts, military, nuclear weapons, open source, physics, policy, space, transparency

I do not regret voting for this President and I would and will do it again. However.……I am not happy about our space program. Not at all. One would think there would be more resistance concerning the privatization of space and the inferior launch vehicles being tested or proposed. Indeed there would be objections except for a great deception being perpetrated on a nation ignorant of the basic facts about space flight. The private space gang has dominated public discourse with very little answering criticism of their promises and plans.
This writer is very critical of the flexible path.

It is a path to nowhere.

Compared to the accomplishments of NASA’s glory days, there is little to recommend the players in the commercial crew game. The most fabulous is Space X, fielding a cheap rocket promising cheap lift. There is so little transparency concerning the true cost of their launches that one space-faring nation has called the bluff and stated SpaceX launch prices are impossible. The Falcon 9, contrary to stellar advertising, is a poor design in so many ways it is difficult to know where to begin the list. The engines are too small and too many, the kerosene propellant is inferior to hydrogen in the upper stage, and promising to reuse spent hardware verges on the ridiculous. Whenever the truth about the flexible path is revealed, the sycophants begin to wail and gnash their teeth.

The latest craze is the Falcon “heavy.” The space shuttle hardware lifted far more, though most of the lift was wasted on the orbiter. With 27 engines the faux heavy is a throwback to half a century ago when clusters of small engines were required due to nothing larger being available. The true heavy rocket of the last century had five engines and the number of Falcon engines it would take to match the Saturn V proves just how far the mighty have fallen.

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Sep 6, 2012

GENCODE Apocalypse

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, business, chemistry, complex systems, counterterrorism, defense, ethics, events, evolution, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, habitats, homo sapiens, human trajectories, life extension, lifeboat, media & arts, military, open source, policy, space, supercomputing, sustainability, transparency


It is a race against time- will this knowledge save us or destroy us? Genetic modification may eventually reverse aging and bring about a new age but it is more likely the end of the world is coming.

The Fermi Paradox informs us that intelligent life may not be intelligent enough to keep from destroying itself. Nothing will destroy us faster or more certainly than an engineered pathogen (except possibly an asteroid or comet impact). The only answer to this threat is an off world survival colony. Ceres would be perfect.

Sep 2, 2012

Verne, Wells, and the Obvious Future Part 3

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, counterterrorism, defense, education, engineering, ethics, events, futurism, geopolitics, life extension, media & arts, military, policy, robotics/AI, space, sustainability, transparency

A secret agent travels to a secret underground desert base being used to develop space weapons to investigate a series of mysterious murders. The agent finds a secret transmitter was built into a supercomputer that controls the base and a stealth plane flying overhead is controlling the computer and causing the deaths. The agent does battle with two powerful robots in the climax of the story.

Gog is a great story worthy of a sci fi action epic today- and was originally made in 1954. Why can’t they just remake these movies word for word and scene for scene with as few changes as possible? The terrible job done on so many remade sci fi classics is really a mystery. How can such great special effects and actors be used to murder a perfect story that had already been told well once? Amazing.

In contrast to Gog we have the fairly recent movie Stealth released in 2005 that has talent, special effects, and probably the worst story ever conceived. An artificially intelligent fighter plane going off the reservation? The rip-off of HAL from 2001 is so ridiculous.

Fantastic Voyage (1966) was a not so good story that succeeded in spite of stretching suspension of disbelief beyond the limit. It was a great movie and might succeed today if instead of miniaturized and injected into a human body it was instead a submarine exploring a giant organism under the ice of a moon in the outer solar system. Just an idea.

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