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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