X-Message-Number: 10982
Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 10:45:25 EST
Subject: cyborgs

George Smith (#10979) was kind enough to recommend my books THE PROSPECT OF
IMMORTALITY and MAN INTO SUPERMAN (available on our web site or by mail), in
connection with discussions of man/machine integration, criteria of identity
or survival, and other matters bearing on the feasibility and desirability of
extending life and improving ourselves.

Although I think the discussions in those books remain useful, since they were
published my thinking has naturally advanced in several ways. In particular,
with respect to criteria of survival and the seat of the self, I now emphasize
the importance of the "self circuit" or the anatomy/physiology of subjectivity
or qualia. I also look more closely at other open questions in physics and
physiology, especially those involving time and time-binding and quantum
questions. A new book in progress--hopefully to be completed in 1999--deals
with these matters and with the implications for examination of personal
values and their possible self-management.

Mr. Smith mentioned that our cells might be regarded as machines--meaning, I
believe, that some (most) of our cells can be regarded as being in symbiosis
with our central selves (which are also mechanisms, but in a different
category). This is almost certainly correct, and indeed there have been many
discussions of evolution suggesting that we developed by the association or
partial melding of different organisms, including bacteria. In other words, we
are already "cyborgs," although the extensions are presently organic rather
than metal or silicon, and the development was not consciously controlled.

And once more, to those who recoil from the notion of themselves as
mechanisms: In addition to having no known alternative, mechanism is good.
It's peachy keen to be a machine--because machines can be repaired and

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=10982