My previous post about radical life extension presented an extreme picture of the future, where humans are able to live longer and longer as a result of melding with machines, eventually even becoming machines themselves. It’s a fascinating future to consider, but also gets one thinking: are Kurzweil’s visions of immortality even close to being feasible, given the current state and direction of today’s technological advancements? When it comes, realistically, to life extension technologies, where do we really stand today?
There’s perhaps no group of people to better answer this question than the people of Methuselah Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by David Gobel, which supports Aubrey De Grey’s SENS research and is dedicated to enabling humans “to live longer, better and wiser, by defeating age-related disease and suffering.” I had the privilege of speaking to Roger Holzberg, the Chief Marketing Officer and Creative Director of Methuselah Foundation, about the core philosophies of the foundation and the promising research they are involved with. I asked Mr. Holzberg, what are the areas of life extension available now, and in our short-term future? What fundamentally drives the foundation towards seeking these life extension solutions?
Read more »
“Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.” – Vernor Vinge, Technological Singularity, 1983
Futurist and Inventor Ray Kurzweil has a plan: He wants to never die.
In order to achieve this goal, he currently takes over 150 supplements per day, eats a calorie restricted diet (a proven technique to prolong lifespan), drinks ionized water (a type of alkalinized water that supposedly protects against free radicals in the body), and exercises daily, all to promote the healthy functioning of his body; and at 60 years old, he reportedly has the physiology of a man 20 years younger.
But the human body, no matter how well you take care of it, is susceptible to illness, disease, and senescence – the process of cellular change in the body that results in that little thing we all do called “aging.” (This cellular process is why humans are physiologically unable to live past the age of around 125 years old.) Kurzweil is well aware of this, but has a solution: he is just trying to live long enough in his human body until technology reaches the point where man can meld with machine, and he can survive as a cyborg with robotically enhanced features; survive, that is, until the day when he can eventually upload his consciousness onto a harddrive, enabling him to “live” forever as bits of information stored indefinitely; immortal, in a sense, as long as he has a copy of himself in case the computer fails.
What happens if these technological abilities don’t come soon enough? Kurzweil has a back-up plan. If, for some reason, this mind-machine blend doesn’t occur in his biological lifetime, Kurzweil is signed up at Alcor Life Extension Foundation to be cryonically frozen and kept in Scottsdale, Arizona, amongst approximately 900 other stored bodies (including famous baseball player Ted Williams) who are currently stored. There at Alcor, he will “wait” until the day when scientists discover the ability to reanimate life back into him– and not too long, as Kurzweil believes this day will be in about 50 years.
Read more »
In the 2004 film I, Robot, Will Smith’s character Detective Spooner harbors a deep grudge for all things technological — and turns out to be justified after a new generation of robots engage in a full out, summer blockbuster-style revolt against their human creators.
Why was Detective Spooner such a Luddite–even before the Robots’ vicious revolt? Much of his resentment stems from a car accident he endured in which a robot saved his life instead of a little girl’s. The robot’s decision haunts Smith’s character throughout the movie; he feels the decision lacked emotion, and what one might call ‘humanity’.
“I was the logical choice,” he says. “(The robot) calculated that I had a 45% chance of survival. Sarah only had an 11% chance.” He continues, dramatically, “But that was somebody’s baby. 11% is more than enough. A human being would’ve known that.”
But what, exactly, is it that the human being would’ve known? And how would they have known it?
Read more »
Nanotech Self-Assemblers. Genetically Engineered Offspring. Full Immersion Virtual Reality. Robots That Can Think.
It’s easy to dismiss many of these “future technologies” as the stuff of science fiction, existing only in the ‘advanced’ societies we’ve seen rendered in the movies. But Ray Kurzweil, famous futurist and author of “The Singularity Is Near,” believes we are at a precipice of a technological revolution where nanotechnology, information technology, and artificial intellegience will, over the next few decades, develop at such a fast rate that the human race will soon be faced with a fundamentally restructured way of living. He declares that we are entering into “an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly nonbiological and trillions of times more powerful than it is today–the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity.
Read more »
The Technological Citizen is a forum to explore and exchange ideas about the issues that arise from modern technologies. A wide variety of topics will be explored, including the ethics of cognitive enhancement, genetic testing, and biotechnologies, as well as the way in which technology impacts our relationship with other people, the environment, and ourselves.
Postings will fall under five basic categories:
Technology and Society
Technology and The Environment
Ethical Issues in Health and Biotechnology
The Future of Technology
If you are interested in seeing all the posts on one particular topic, please click on that topic heading under “Categories”.
Thanks for checking out the blog! I look forward to hearing your ideas about these topics.