Support the IEET




The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States. Please give as you are able, and help support our work for a brighter future.



Search the IEET
Subscribe and Contribute to:


Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view




whats new at ieet

Soylent Update Keto Version

Fermi Paradox & the Great Filter- Are We Likely Doomed?

Sherlock Holmes as Cyborg and the Future of Retail

Artificial Intelligence, Anthropics & Cause Prioritization

What is the Difference between Posthumanism and Transhumanism?

Building the Virtues Control Panel


ieet books

Virtually Human: The Promise—-and the Peril—-of Digital Immortality
Author
by Martine Rothblatt


comments

Ste4en on 'What is the Difference between Posthumanism and Transhumanism?' (Jul 29, 2014)

OC on 'The Maverick Nanny with a Dopamine Drip: Debunking Fallacies in the Theory of AI Motivation' (Jul 29, 2014)

CygnusX1 on 'The Problem with the Trolley Problem, or why I avoid utilitarians near subways' (Jul 28, 2014)

instamatic on 'Beauty Is Skin-deep—But That’s Where Genetic Engineering Is Going Next' (Jul 27, 2014)

instamatic on 'Why We’ll Still Be Fighting About Religious Freedom 200 Years From Now!' (Jul 27, 2014)

contraterrine on 'Radcliffe-Richards on Sexual Inequality and Justice (Part Two)' (Jul 27, 2014)

contraterrine on 'The Sad Passing of a Positive Futurist' (Jul 27, 2014)







Subscribe to IEET News Lists

Daily News Feed

Longevity Dividend List

Catastrophic Risks List

Biopolitics of Popular Culture List

Technoprogressive List

Trans-Spirit List



JET

Transhumanism and Marxism: Philosophical Connections

Sex Work, Technological Unemployment and the Basic Income Guarantee

Technological Unemployment but Still a Lot of Work…

Hottest Articles of the Last Month


Nanomedical Cognitive Enhancement
Jul 11, 2014
(6052) Hits
(0) Comments

Interview with Transhumanist Biohacker Rich Lee
Jul 8, 2014
(5910) Hits
(0) Comments

Virtually Sacred, by Robert Geraci – religion in World of Warcraft and Second Life
Jul 3, 2014
(4486) Hits
(0) Comments

How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
Jul 5, 2014
(3724) Hits
(18) Comments



IEET > Life > Fellows > Mike Treder

Print Email permalink (1) Comments (4381) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


Aging, Death, and Nanotech


Mike Treder
Mike Treder
Responsible Nanotechnology

Posted: Dec 28, 2005

Among the most intriguing research of our time is the effort to understand the process of aging, and perhaps to arrest or even reverse its effects.

Impressive progress is being made:

Genes that control the timing of organ formation during development also control timing of aging and death, and provide evidence of a biological timing mechanism for aging, Yale researchers report in the journal Science.

“Although there is a large variation in lifespan from species to species, there are genetic aspects to the processes of development and aging,” said Frank Slack, associate professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and senior author of the paper. “We used the simple, but genetically well-studied, C. elegans worm and found genes that are directly involved in determination of lifespan. Humans have genes that are nearly identical.”

A microRNA and the developmental-timing gene it controls, lin-4 and lin-14, affect patterns of cellular development at very specific stages. . .

According to Slack, [there is] strong evidence of an “intrinsic biological clock” that runs for aging as well as for normal organ development.

“This microRNA is conserved in humans leading to the enticing idea of being able to beneficially affect the results of aging including diseases of aging,” said Slack. Work is under way to identify other microRNAs regulators and genes they target, to determine where they function and whether they behave the same way in mice, and to see if they are altered in human diseases of aging.

Genetic therapy holds great promise for treating several serious health problems, as well as possibly stopping natural deterioration altogether. However, the current state of the art can also cause problems, including cancer. Eventually, with the use of advanced nanotechnology, scientists may be able to directly edit the DNA of living cells in the body.

But even without that level of sophistication, massively parallel scanning—made possible with tools built by molecular manufacturing (MM)—may enable the sorting of cells modified outside the body. The ability to inject only non-cancerous cells would make some kinds of genetic therapy much safer. Microsurgical techniques could allow the implantation of modified cells directly into the target tissues.

Health improvement and life extension do not depend on MM, but it certainly will make them accessible to more people. Any treatment that can be automated can be applied to any number of people at low cost; such efficient research will speed the development of cures for complex problems such as aging.

What about the common objections to radical life extension?

If everyone were healthy and lived a long time, we’d overpopulate the earth.

Once infant mortality is minimized, birth rate contributes far more to population than lifespan, because children grow up to have children of their own. But as people get healthier, richer, and better educated, they have fewer kids. The birth rate is already below the replacement level in several rich countries.

Overpopulation is a centuries-old problem. Traditionally, it’s been solved by infanticide, plague, and vicious war. MM will allow us to develop far more sustainable lifestyles and figure out better solutions for living in greater numbers on and beyond the Earth.

Life extension is immoral and we should resist it.

Smallpox vaccination, anesthesia, and blood transfusions also were said to be immoral. Today it’s obvious that that’s crazy. No one wants to be sick, and life extension is a natural result of health extension. Anyone who visits the doctor is working to improve their health and often trying to increase their lifespan as well.

Death is a natural part of life and it shouldn’t be shunned.

Since when does natural equate with good? Tooth decay is natural—should dentistry be outlawed? Polio is natural—should we ban the Sabin vaccine? Cholera is natural—should we allow epidemics to rage unchallenged?

In response to these questions, which I posed in The Scientific Conquest of Death, TechNewsWorld’s Sonia Arrison writes:

It is an entirely human response to try to fix problems that are harming people—including death. Some 150,000 people die globally every day. In the U.S., it’s about 200,000 a month (6,500 a day). Given these numbers, it does seem rather odd that we aren’t demanding a solution now. Perhaps one reason is that we live in a culture of death—a culture that has convinced us that death is natural, good, and impossible to fight against, so we shouldn’t even try.

But we should try, and as this book shows, some very smart people are currently engaged in finding the solutions. In the Bible, people were said to have lived for upwards of 900 years, and it would be nice to get back to that kind of run on life. As Rabbi Neil Gillman once said, “There is nothing redemptive about death. Death is incoherent. Death is absurd.”

 


Mike Treder is a former Managing Director of the IEET.
Print Email permalink (1) Comments (4382) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


COMMENTS


and if no one dies anymore we need
also a more sophisticated “religion”
and the advaita (nondualistic) idea just
comes in handy.





YOUR COMMENT (IEET's comment policy)

Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: Aubrey profiled at Damn Interesting

Previous entry: Quantity of Experience: Brain-Duplication and Degrees of Consciousness

HOME | ABOUT | FELLOWS | STAFF | EVENTS | SUPPORT  | CONTACT US
SECURING THE FUTURE | LONGER HEALTHIER LIFE | RIGHTS OF THE PERSON | ENVISIONING THE FUTURE
CYBORG BUDDHA PROJECT | AFRICAN FUTURES PROJECT | JOURNAL OF EVOLUTION AND TECHNOLOGY

RSSIEET Blog | email list | newsletter |
The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.

Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
Williams 119, Trinity College, 300 Summit St., Hartford CT 06106 USA 
Email: director @ ieet.org     phone: 860-297-2376