Reasonable Proposals

from the life-and-death-matters dept.
Zarathustra2101 writes "The current issue of Reason magazine features an article entitled Forever Young: The New Scientific Search for Immortality by Ronald Bailey. The author paraphrases Dylan Thomas thus: 'The defining political conflict of the 21st century will be the battle over life and death. On one side stand the partisans of mortality, who counsel humanity to quietly accept our morbid fate and go gentle into that good night. On the other is the party of life, who rage against the dying of the light and yearn to extend the enjoyment of healthy life to as many as possible for as long as possible.'"

"While most of the article is devoted to describing the mechanics of aging and discussing the various extant and proposed treatments involving diet, traditional medicine and gene therapy, Bailey also gives a nod to nanotechnology. Quoting Ralph Merkle: 'Nanotechnology will let us build fleets of computer-controlled molecular tools much smaller than a human cell and with the accuracy and precision of drug molecules. These machines could remove obstructions in the circulatory system, kill cancer cells or take over the function of subcellular organelles.'"

"Also discussed is a plan by Robert Freitas to 'replace your entire circulatory system with a sapphire vasculoid weighing two kilograms. No heart, no blood — just a system of nanotech machines that would ferry oxygen, carbon dioxide, nutrients, and immune protective machines throughout your body, all encased in nearly unbreakable sapphire that would line your old-fashioned veins and arteries. Since 80 percent of what kills most people can be traced to the circulatory system — heart attacks, strokes, wounding, metastasizing cancer — such a vasculoid would dramatically increase one?s life span. Freitas thinks the first models will be available in 40 years.'"

"Finally, nanotech's role in cryonics is acknowledged, and Bailey sums up the cryo-advocates' position in this way: 'Cryonicists divide the world into two groups, those who are experimenting with cryonics by being frozen vs. those who just die and are buried. Which would you rather be in, they ask: the control group or the experimental group?'"

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