approach to immortality

An approach to immortality

To be able to live as long as we want, first we must make a list of indispensable functions we do in order to live as we do now.

These functions are digestion, respiration, blood circulation, etc., and most important: sensation and cogitation.

It would seem that all the functions we do now can be performed for us by machines technologically possible at present.

Except the ones of sensation and cogitation.

Can we now produce such machines to do the sensation and cogitation functions for us?

I have the impression that the science and technology exist at present.

The final challenge is identity, the perpetuation of the self.

If we have the machines to enable us to do sensation and cogitation for us, is that not already an expansion and eventual perpetuation of our " self "; so that when the organic self leaves the scene, the machinized self that is ourselves will continue, surviving on electrical power or other power.

Then we can all continue to exist, and to discover, and to discuss ideas forever, as long as there is power to keep our machinized selves going on and on.

Susma Rio Sep

There are devices that can perform limited sensing functions (such as seeing and hearing). However, the quality of these is not nearly as good as what we have by default.

And no, we cannot produce machines that can think like we do. That is a long way off.

I’ll work at scaring up some cites for what I’ve provided.

I’ll leave discussion of the rest for GD.

On artificial means of sensing
On artificial retinas, here’s a website for a company doing research in this:

Here’s an article on this. Apparently the technology is a few years old.

A summary of hearing implants:

On artificial means of cognition
The number of neurons in the human brain: 10-100 billion.

The average number of connection for each neuron: up to 15000, averaging on the order of 1000-15000.

The number of transistors in a Pentium 4 processor: 42 million.

The number of connections for each transistor: 3 (one input, one output, and one power)

As you can see, there is a very large difference between the complexity of a human brain and the complexity of your typical processor.

Yeah, but what happens when the in 4,000,000,000 when the Sun expands and envelopes the earth. Our “mechanized” selves won’t be able to withstand THAT heat.

AAARGGGhhhh!!! “The PREVIEW button is my friend.”

That should read, "Yeah, but what happens in 4,000,000,000 years when the Sun…"


When you think about it…

You have never died, why should you believe you will? Just because you have seen others grow old and die and you notice the same beginning steps to what happened to them happening to you, why should you believe that you won’t stop at… say… 82 years old. Prove to me you won’t.


All True Straight Dopers already know the secret of Immortality.

It involves magnetic rings from China.

They also grant Vast Sexual Potency.

Why mechanize the human body?

Just have regular infusions of cell repairing nano-machines,instant immortality.

Well a shotgun blast to the head might be above even those theoretical machines abilities…

Don’t telomeres play some part as well?

Sciam had a few articles on them that suggested that if we were able to manipulate the telomeres we could extend our lives.

I’ll have to dig those articles up.

I may be way off base,but i believe the reason telommeres exist is that if a cell replicates for too long we have cancer,or damaged DNA.

Well, I don’t know how the rest of the dopers feel, but my attitude is that something else is doing cognition for “me”, there is no me left. For similar reasons, I would describe a brain transplant rather as a full gody transplant.

clayton e, solopsist at large. Bench sitting performance art extra.

well it can come in many ways… in some ways we have it already. Compared to our animal and vegetable cousins, humans are able to transfer far more detailed experiences from generation to generation- some people, like Homer and Shakespeare have achieved a fairly comprehensive transfer of ideas over many centuries, and have achieved immortality that way. As the recorded data of humanity increases, more and more people will leave detailed (though often strangely edited) records of their inner thoughts. This might be the only sort of immortality that is ever achieved in the real world.

But as Woody Allen said, I want to achieve immortality by not dying.

So, there are several methods that may be attempted in the near or not so near future.

Biological immortality could increase the lifespan of the individual, probably involving manipulation of the telomeres and purging the bodycells of accumulated wastes. It would no doubt be a good idea to investigate genetic modification to emulate the extraordinary longevity of the bowhead wale and the giant tortoise… this may mean taking on some of the other characteristics of those venerable animals, but perhaps that can be avoided if so desired.

The development of nanotechnology would perhaps make it possible for cells to be constantly monitored and regulated internally, removing cells that begin to show signs of genetic or other forms of deterioration. So we could end up with a superb biological body, with even an artificial self circulating blood system to avoid strain on the heart…

But then we hit a wall, at two or three hundred years… the brain, with ~10[sup]15[/sup]individual states, cannot carry an infinite memory- people start forgetting things in their forties- what about their three hundred and forties?

Even with drastic genetic rearrangement of the brain’s memory storage, it probably wouldn’t be possible to remember more than a thousand years of life- add a tiny nanotech memory bank in every single cell of your body- you could really only remember twenty- thirty thousand years-

Such imagined immortals as Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings would be constantly struggling to access memory from deep in their storage banks… it is that or live in an eternal Now, and write everything down in notebooks, like Heinlein’s Lazarus Long. (you see many people have already struggled with these concepts.)

So then we come to the Artificial Life option. The operation of the human brain may eventually be emulated, and at ~10[sup]15[/sup]states this does not seem impossible. A passable imitation of a person may be able to be constructed even without a brain scan, just by reading all the information they leave behind on the message boards, for instance, or just by talking to that person for long enough. This sort of copy would be more like a very advanced animatronic robot, and although it could perhaps pass the Turing test and be considered human, it would hardly satisfy most people’s desire for immortality.

No, to do that the individual states of the neurones and synapses and the brain chemistry must be determined, and we are looking at nanotechnology again. The easiest way to do it would be o take the brain apart bit by bit and reassemble it in an electronic body. This is not very satisfactory as it involves the death of the original, and the copy might think it is he same person, but it may have no real continuity of consciousness.

To attempt that, the neurones and synapses could perhaps be replaced one by one by more robust nanotch copies with identical data properties- a person would gradually fade into an electronic replica of her/himself…perhaps over a period of years. Or the instantaneous states of each neuron could be read by a monitoring device as small as, or smaller than, the neuron itself, and a copy manufactured outside the body.

The copies once made, could live essentially for ever, be copied themselves, increased in processing power and in other parameters, merged and melded, or allowed to occupy robot bodies like or unlike their originals, or introduced into virtual reality worlds without number running at millions of times normal speed perhaps, including custom built universes to order. Only the heat death of the universe would be an effective limit.
Of course this means that eventually even the electronic ghosts of the far future will have to die…

Sci-fi worldbuilding at

I thought it was clenching your anus?
(That one book at Amazon that Fenris found a couple years ago?)

Sounds a whole lot simpler- any cites?