X-Message-Number: 16367
Date: Sun, 27 May 2001 23:52:28 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Response to Epstein #16350.

>A severed head being a person,certainly,
>is a position that few have taken or would
>argue.It's certainly not a self-sustaining
>biological entity.
>It's hard to ascribe identity to a portion
>of a self.

To me a severed head is simply a kind of amputee (one needing special 
support, to be sure, but so what?). A person without a leg or arm is still 
a whole person, ditto with a severed head. Maybe only a few today would 
agree--but that doesn't make the others right.

> > >The issues raised are not easily dealt with.
> > >Would it be considered abusive to ensure that a
> > >clone developed in an anencephalic state?
> >
> > An anencephalic clone is no person. So it ought not to be considered
> > "abusive" -- you aren't abusing anybody.
>Again,there will be people arguing this.Look at the
>anti-abortionists proclaiming zygotes and blastulas
>to be citizens with civil rights...they certainly
>have no differentiated organs at all.

They are not persons either in my view.

>So a "pinhead" is not a person to you...is a brain
>by itself a person to you?
>How about a cerebrum by itself?

I recognize the possibility of gray areas between person and non-person; 
it's not always a simple matter to judge. Zygotes, blastulas, and 
anencephalic clones seem to me to be so clearly on the nonperson side that 
there is no reason to think otherwise. A whole, intact brain is clearly a 
person, on the other hand, an amputee like the severed head. A cerebrum 
also would qualify as a person, I think, because memories are stored there. 
A pinhead--I'm inclined to be lenient in cases of mental defects, as long 
as you clearly have sentience, especially if it includes human properties 
such as some ability to communicate linguistically. And all sentient beings 
have some value as such, in my view, so this means you would tender respect 
toward even severely impaired humans who still were marginally sentient. 
Even someone who is permanently comatose (by today's standards) should be 
considered human if their identity-critical information survives in the 
dormant brain (much as in the case of a well-enough preserved cryopatient).

> > >Or accepted that an ordinary clone be brought
> > >to life and maturity,with the intent that its
> > >head then be in turn neuropreserved and replaced
> > >with the original's head?(Or just thrown away,
> > >if the clone was considered to have no rights?)
> >
> > Very different issue. Put a brain in there and you now have states of
> > consciousness and personhood. You then have to consider the civil rights
> > of the person you have created.
>But if it turns out to be the only way of generating whole bodies
>such as those the neuropreserved person had in life?

Then you have a tough issue. But it seems very unlikely that it will turn 
out this way.

>[snip] > >Best find a way to repair a whole body!
> >
> > I think replacing it would be better yet. I have curvature of the spine,
> > and my shoulders are too narrow. Why not just make a whole new skeletal
> > frame, and you might as well make other parts new too.
>I am viscerally opposed to ever having a "former body".
>I think any nanorepair technology that could be created
>could correct a body's problems throughout.
>I am sure that there could be means of applying materials
>science to biological entities that would enhance them
>as such,rather than replace them.

I have no real problem with that, but for me it wouldn't be too important 
whether the body or housing I ended up with was made in one way or some 
other, other factors equal.

> > It sounds like you're saying that the highest aim of human existence is
> > the preservation of the species. To me it's the individual that counts.
>There are distinct aims for the individual and for the species.
>But no individual should be permitted to engage in betrayal of
>the niche-position of the species.

To me the whole concept of "species" is of no deep significance. Or put 
another way, I see all sentient beings as fundamentally one species, which 
will, I think and hope, become progressively more unified and harmonious as 
we get beyond our biological limitations, the chief of which is death.

>Every species needs to view itself as the final culmination of
>evolution...or it will become extinct.

I hope to see the human species, meaning the biological entity we presently 
call homo sapiens, become extinct within a century or so. Of course we, the 
individuals, will (I strongly hope) live on and on instead, having outgrown 
this earlier phase of our lives much as a baby outgrows the crib and 
diapers. And I'm not saying we should repudiate the past either--far from 
it. But we do want to go on to better things.

> > >The way to win the fight is to make sure that it never happens
> > >in the first place,by ensuring that we never create any non-human
> > >intelligence!
> >
> > Why stop at that? Let's create as few intelligent beings as possible,
> > beyond what are already here. And since most of them now here are
> > mortalists, maybe they'll just die off too, leaving only a "skeleton 
> crew."
>No...a species needs to reproduce into many environments to ensure its
>survival.(And also guard itself against ever differentiating into more
>than one species,of course).

Again, we're all one species and need to break down the barriers that 
divide us, which would involve some considerable appreciation of others' 
diversity. I see value in differentiating, so long as there is mutual love 
and respect, which is what we really need to cultivate and enhance to 
survive. If we can conquer death, I would hope we can do this too.

> > I'm sure a flock of machines could be designed that would function much as
> > a species, capable of self-replication, looking out for its own interests,
> > trying to preserve its ecological niche, and so on. In effect it would be
> > just as much a "race" as a biological counterpart.
>Perhaps it could,but it certainly shouldn't.
>And it certainly shouldn't be viewed as being
>entitled to its interests wherever they may
>conflict with ours.

What I think is that sufficiently enlightened beings will not have 
interests that conflict so much as to lead to violence. I don't think we 
should just create some artificial plague of locusts; what we do must be 
very carefully managed, for reasonable, enlightened aims of betterment.

> > If it expresses desire it is a being, regardless of its origin or 
> composition.
>A program made to print "I WANT _____" is a "being"?

Sorry, I misunderstood you here. To "express desire" I was thinking implied 
to "have desire," but you could look at it differently. If a computer types 
"I want a bike" it doesn't necessarily want a bike.

> > >We got rid of slavery,the beings who can own property can't be property.
> > >
> > >Now why turn property into beings?
> >
> > People do that all the time. Farms (property) produce food. People eat it,
> > they reproduce.
>Not the same thing...it's not creation of outside-the-species
>entities then treated as intelligences.

Once again, I don't recognize the importance of the "species." It's the 
individual that counts. "Species" is just a convenient term to apply to a 
set of individuals that have some particular thing in common. Its 
application in biology is meaningful now, but will, I think, lose its 
importance as we progress and become more than human.

> > > > >I don't like the idea of deliberate conversion of healthy biological
> > > > >bodies to something else,and hope this never sees acceptance.
> > > >
> > > > What I hope is that nobody ever tries to deny me the right to accept
> > > > this option if I want it and it's possible to arrange it.
> > >
> > >I would,if in a position to do so,frustrate that hope of yours.
> > >I see such a desire,like a desire to die,as insane.
> >
> > Well, naturally I disagree with your position and would, if in a position
> > to do so, frustrate your attempts to deny me what I feel is my right to
> > choose, and something not by any stretch of imagination insane.
>I see it as self-destructive,and self-destructiveness as insane.
>Turning yourself into something non-human destroys your humanity,
>while trying to unduly stretch the definition of humanity is
>a destruction of humanity itself.

Ah, what does it mean to be human? Probably different things to different 
people, as the old saying goes. To me, being human is something that has 
its strong points, but weak points too, and ultimately, some unacceptable 
limitations. So I want to become more than human. In a sense, then, you 
could say that I seek to "destroy" my humanity, but only because I want to 
develop into something higher, like a child wanting someday to be no longer 
a child. On the material plane, I think this will very likely involve 
abandoning the protoplasmic body I am now expressed in. Properly handled, 
it will be no catastrophe but quite the contrary.

> > >Even if I die I don't want to rot.
> >
> > Me either.
> >
> > A combination of chemopreservation and permafrost might be better than
> > either by itself. But this is an area that hasn't gotten the attention it
> > deserves.
>Maybe John Grigg can tell us if
>anyone in Alaska would want to
>work on this??

Maybe. There is also the Cryonics Society of Canada, which Ben Best once 
told me was interested in this idea. How about it?

As a final comment, I agree with you in opposing the death penalty and I 
also favor the right to abortion under appropriate circumstances, 
particularly before the fetus has become sentient.

Mike Perry

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=16367