Human enhancement with or without nanotechnology

Human enhancement with or without nanotechnology

The first issue of the journal Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology (free reg req’d) is devoted to the topic of Human Enhancement and includes essays by familiar names (de Grey, Freitas, Wolbring, Cameron) and a number of newer ones.

In “Medical Nanorobotics: Breaking the Trance of Futility in Life Extension Research (A Reply to de Grey)”, Freitas says:

In my view, nanotechnology will play a pivotal role in the solution to the problem of human aging. It is true that purely biotechnological solutions to many, if not most, of the major classes of age-related damage may be found, and even reach the clinic, by the 2020s. However, we have no guarantee that biotechnology will find solutions to all the major classes of age-related damage, especially in this time frame. If treatments for any one of the numerous major sources of aging are not found, we will continue to age – albeit at a slightly slower rate – and with no substantial increase in the average human lifespan.

Medical nanorobotics, if it can be made to work, can unquestionably offer convenient solutions to all known causes of age-related damage and other aspects of human senescence, and most likely can also successfully address any new causes of senescence that remain undiscovered today. Medical nanorobotics is the ultimate “big hammer” in the anti-aging toolkit.

Quite so. Bio-based techniques should arrive sooner, but there will probably still be types of damage that only a non-biological approach can address. —Christine

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  1. James G. January 15, 2008 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    Yes, I agree. I have always felt this way about de Grey’s arguments, it’s nice that people are now telling him this, maybe he’ll take up the nanotech crusade the way he’s taken up the biological anti-aging angle.

  2. Ben January 19, 2008 at 4:30 am - Reply

    To the best of my knowledge, Aubrey has no objection to nanomedical approaches to rejuvenation. It’s pretty clear that, in principle, mature nanotech will be able to obviate or repair all aging-related damage. We just aren’t convinced the technology will be mature enough, soon enough, to benefit those currently alive.

    It’s sensible to have a range of possible solutions under development; after all, the Singularity Institute could argue that the pursuit of medical nanotech is a waste of time since smarter-than-human AI will be able to develop it dramatically faster than humans (indeed, that’s a cornerstone of the ‘hard takeoff’ scenario).

    That’s ‘if it can be made to work’, of course. 😉

  3. Christine Peterson January 21, 2008 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    Good points, Ben. –CP

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