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« Regulation vs. Economics | Main | On the road again... »

October 17, 2004


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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Kurzweil on the Near Future:

» An Interview with Ray Kurzweil from Fight Aging!
(Via CRNano). This interview is a little more of the Kurzweil I like and a little less of the Kurzweil I don't like: We're in the early stages of biotechnology. We just finished the genome. We haven't finished reverse-assembling it yet, and we don't un... [Read More]


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You people who don't want to die have some serious issues that are liable to lead to some pretty unhelpfull interactions with the world around you. How many peoples' heads have been stepped on throughout history so that some one else can avoid their fear of death? Oh, I forgot, CRN is here to prevent that from happening, so we just get the good stuff and without the avoidable negative consequences. Telling, that here Chris writes "Yes!" at the thought of living forever...whatever happened to the sober, realistic voice of nanoresponsibility?

Chris Phoenix, CRN

I write "Yes!" at the thought of being able to do something about premature death. There's a difference between avoiding premature death and living forever.

Death is not always a tragedy. But premature death is. And most of the time, when people feel ready to die, it's because their own bodies have slowly tortured them for years. That is also a tragedy.

As to responsibility: With molecular manufacturing used well, the earth can sustainably support at least 100 billion humans. With molecular manufacturing used badly, 100 million humans could easily despoil the planet. Population matters far less than policy.

I do not assume that CRN can prevent the bad stuff. But I assume that the bad stuff is more likely without CRN. Thoughtless radicals too often attack the people who they should be making common cause with. Don't make that mistake.


Mike Deering

"You people who don't want to die..."

That's me! I'm one of those people who don't want to die. I don't want to die of diseases, accidents, violence, or old age. I don't just want to stop the aging process, I want to reverse it. I want to be at my prime physical health, fitness, capability, and appearance for the foreseeable future. Advancing technologies will let me do so sooner than you think.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

OK, I've added a fourth "Hot Debate" to http://Wise-Nano.org. "Should people be required to die at some point, as nanotechnology extends health to 100, 120, even 200 years?"

The debate appears on the homepage. Here is a link to the page.

Obviously, I have an opinion, but I tried to be fair. But I just couldn't think of any counter-arguments to the arguments against death! I encourage people on both sides to add to the page. (Please don't destroy other people's work--but please do argue with it!)



Chris, I really do try to avoid being a "thoughless radical" so I will try to give your perspective some more thought. I do think it's funny, though, that right after you tried to make a more sober post Mike Deering went off the deep end with enthusiasm. Reading it, I assumed it was J. Ravenwood, which just goes to show you've got more than one of those kinds of people around here. (If you really want institutional legitimacy, perhaps you're going to have to get rid of all of us, myself included.)

Dying seems important to me, likewise with accepting a degree of uncontrolability about life. Accepting that you cannot control your life is related to not trying to control other peoples' lives, I believe.

Janessa Ravenwood

“Reading it, I assumed it was J. Ravenwood”
Right here, pal.

So you’re – not surprisingly – back here arguing the Pro-Ghoul position of “I want all of you to die and rot in the ground” and you say that “Dying seems important to me.” Allow me to assure that no one’s stopping you. Feel free to jump off a cliff anytime you want (but try to not hit any of us immortalists at the bottom, or least no one without a cryonics contract).

Barring an ELE, 2 things are eventually inevitable regardless of obstacles (even you Luddites):
A) The development of mature nanotechnology.
B) The means to slow, stop, and eventually reverse aging, which will grant immortality save for lethal accidents or murder.

At this time, we can classify all people into 1 of 2 groups.
A) Those who want life extension.
B) Those who don’t.

If you think the billions of $’s spent annually on products to mitigate the effects of aging and look younger aren’t an indication of just how enormously huge Group A is going to be, you’re living on another plane of reality. Of Group B, there will be those who just don’t want it for themselves, and those who also want to prevent to prevent others from getting it as well (I think we can safely say that this is your group).

Group B is going to have to face the biggest uphill social opinion battle in the history of the human race. They’re going to have to argue that being dead and rotting in the ground is actually a far better idea than continuing to live and being young, healthy, and beautiful. Your ludicrous idea that everyone MUST die – or presumably be EXECUTED if they have the temerity to live too long – for the abstract concept of “the good of society” just isn’t going to play well. (And for the record, any such executioners better be well-armed before coming to my door because I’ll go down fighting with the biggest arsenal I can get my hands on by hook or by crook). Ban it in one country and the only effect will be a stampede to get to other countries where it’s available. You won’t be able to ban it everywhere and bans just encourage a black market anyway. If you think the drug trade is lucrative, then “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” when it comes to “boosterspice.”

Those who don’t accept life extension will eventually die from old age and leave more of those who did accept it behind. So, through simple process of elimination, my side wins and yours effectively ceases to exist to any meaningful degree. All I have to do is wait.

Ultimately, I guess death does have a use after all – it gets rid of you ghouls. Happy old age, decrepitude, and disease (from your post, you’re presumably looking forward to all of these, so have fun).

P.S. Your statement of “Accepting that you cannot control your life is related to not trying to control other peoples' lives, I believe.” is beyond hypocritical as by opposing life extension technology you’re trying to control MY life and the lives of others in the most extreme way possible by trying to kill us.

Mike Deering

Antinano, thank you for posting to this blog. Your opposition to the societal effects of mature nanotechnology is a valuable contribution to this discussion. It enables the rest of us to explore our positions and arguments in a challenging environment. If we were all continually agreeing with each other the discourse would be much less productive and would eventually atrophy and die. You perform a necessary service, and if we didn't have you we would be well advised to recruit someone from your group to serve your function. It just goes to show that the old saying is true. "Everyone has value, even if only as a bad example."


"The means to slow, stop, and eventually reverse aging, which will grant immortality save for lethal accidents or murder."

Actually, what if nanocomputers could be used to store information to create a backup copy of a person in case the person dies due to accidents or murder. Basically, nanorobots could go through the body, gather data such as hair color, personality traits, and memory stored in the brain, and then store the information in a nanocomputer. This way, if the person dies, the nanocomputer could be hooked up to a nanofactory.

Janessa Ravenwood

nano123: I'm - of course - familiar with that idea, but it won't work for me as I don't think that copies of me are me. Don't really want to expound on that (it takes 4 hours a day for 2 - 3 weeks and I'm still shuddering from the last time I had that discussion) but that's my take on it. If it works for you, great. That gives you options I don't have and I'm such a dedicated immortalist that I have TWO cryonics contracts.

Mike Deering

I just read the two articles by Leon Kass linked from the wise-nano.org debate on immortality. This guy is a very dangerous man. He argues persuasively for a hundred year maximum lifespan with lots of decrepitude at the end as something that should be foundation of society. That lifespan extension for anyone, even healthspan extension should be illegal. He is also the chairman of the president's council on bioethics. This is the guy Bush has chosen to advise him on matters of advancing biomedical technology. If you are worried about terrorists, I would propose that Leon Kass is a bigger threat to your survival than Osama Bin Laden. Early voting opened yesterday in Florida. As soon as I get this message sent, I am in the car, on my way to take action for the benefit of my own survival. I suggest you do the same.

Janessa Ravenwood

Mike: Kass is a joke. He’s also 65 years old (66 in February). His little advisory council does little but play CYA these days and is increasingly regarded as seriously biased in the scientific community. He’s not even really advising on these things anymore from the last I read (got his fingers burned I believe). With any luck he should be out of our hair in a decade or so thanks to those natural processes he’s so fond of. Re the politics, I’m a single-issue voter and I’m far more worried about terrorists than that twit Kass.

Brett Bellmore

Once he purged the commission of everyone who disagreed with him, even the people who were sympathetic to his views tended to realize it was going to be a joke. I understand they didn't even bother addressing opposing views in the report, rendering it pretty much useless even to his allies.

So, just a couple days to the Foresight conference. I'm flying in Thursday morning, in order to have the day to visit the National Aerospace museum. Anyone interested in going along? They've got an SR-71!

Tom Craver

One line in Simon Smith's analysis of Kass:

"Kass shouldn't fight life extension to increase equality. He should advocate for public health care"

I suspect that the fastest way to kill any chance at life extension is to get (government controlled) public health care. That puts governmental values and interests in control of who gets what - and government has no strong interest in having longer-lived citizens.

Government interests would likely be best served by keeping life extension expensive, and having a lottery to let a handful of average citizens get it for free - if they behave themselves. Extra lottery points for joining the army or peace corp or some politician's pet volunteer project. Negative points for being a bad parent, having a criminal record, risking your health with drugs/alcohol/tobacco/extra-marital sex/etc. What a wonderful life we'd have...

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Janessa, note that ELE could stand for either "Extinction Level Event" (which I assume you meant) or "Extreme Life Extension" (which is how I first read it).

Antinano, I'm curious how you'll answer Mike's point about wanting to control other people's lives.

Janessa, on a separate note (pun intended), those who want to die may still outnumber you if they have more children than you do, and train their children to follow their beliefs. Cultures that relinquish (some) technology can be stable over many generations, as shown by the Amish.

General note: I predict that health extension will lead naturally to life extension. Today, some people feel ready to die--usually after decades of decreasing vitality and years of failing health. Their own bodies torture them to death. And unable to prevent it, they sometimes accept it, which may be a healthy response given the limited range of choices.

If someone invented a pill that made you physically five years younger, how many would you take? I bet that very few people between 40 and 60 would refuse to take such a pill at all (assuming it worked as advertised with no personal drawbacks). Take one every five years, and you have life extension. Anyone who tries to outlaw that pill will be crushed in the stampede.


Janessa Ravenwood

Chris: Forgot about that use of the acronym! :-)

And actually that was my point about wanting to control people's lives. Also, I thought the Amish were in decline and that around the world technology is making inroads to non-technological cultures like never before. They will be tempted by technie gadgets, resistance is futile...:-)

I'd say you're definitely right about the stampede.


Chris: I was looking for Mike's post about control, but I could only see Janessa's. Am I advocating that super-nano-lives be put under my ludditish (pro-ghoul) control? Is it controling to try to stop someone from exerting control over myself or others? Two seperate, but related questions. I'm not going to pretend to have an answer for either. I'm just discussing my concerns on a blog. Ultimately all I can do is express my concerns and watch out for myself and the people in my life I so ghoulishly love. I'm pretty convinced that control is a creeping paradigm and one that has had pretty darned ghoulish consequences all around the world. (I especially like Vandana Shiva on this kind of analysis.) I'm not niave enough to expect any government to control nano. (Kerry to top Bush on nano funding, totally cracked me up.) Who knows, if I can't get allong with Janessa at her current age, maybe others will be able to when she's a couple centuries older.

On the avoiding tech subject, check out:
Cultural Survival
and Genetic Resources Action International
Those are my favorite sites right now regarding that issue.

Tom Craver


You seem to be confusing a number of ideas.

It isn't "technology" nor seed company property rights in seedlines that Iraqi farmers should oppose. It's :
(a) the lack of good alternative non-commercial seedlines - certifiably "open" seedlines, if you will;
(b) the lack of an organization powerful enough to defend the open seedlines, when the seed companies inevitably try to claim those are somehow derived from their property. (Pollen drifting makes this a complex issue - should the seed companies prevent their seedline's crops from producing pollen if they want to maintain rights? Are any seeds pollenated by their proprietary genes theirs? If so, are they liable for destroying the value of fields of open seedline seed crops? These questions could go either way - but if only the seed companies have the money to get lawyers and politicians to argue their way, you KNOW which way the answers will come out.)
(c) the ability of corporate seed companies to unfairly influence government in their favor - assuming that is actually happening. So far, it just sounds like the seed companies don't have any real competition.

BTW - this definitely has echos of software property rights, and future nano-design rights issues.

Tom Craver

Clarification - the above post is WRT the issues at the www.grain.org site that antinano said he favors.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Antinano, sorry, it was Janessa's point, not Mike's.

I don't understand why you think you need to do anything about people who want to live a long time. Those people haven't expressed a desire to exert control over you. Why would they want to?

If you're assuming that the existence of long-lived people will cause societal change that will do you harm--well, that's a pretty indirect chain of reasoning, which doesn't appear to be a good justification for killing millions of people. Societies change in all sorts of ways. People adapt, often by becoming insular. As long as that insularity doesn't lead to intolerance, everyone is still fine.


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