X-Message-Number: 18491
Date: Tue, 5 Feb 2002 10:10:07 -0500
From: Jeffrey Soreff <>
Subject: Re: Technology and humanity

Toby Christensen wrote:

>I would agree that the path of humanity will be towards great things,
>but we need to draw the line and not so much as stick our little toes
>over it.

Exactly who needs to draw a line for whom, enforced how, and why?

>For example, if a person appeared who could help me concentrate on and
>enjoy novels, drive a car, kick at waist height, tie my shoelaces etc,
>(and there have been quacks who have claimed as much), then I would
>gladly accept that offer.

>If they then offered to help me psychokinetically move stars in the
>sky, I would tell them not to worry about THAT.

Fine, but are you also proposing to reject choices for _other_ people?

>I'm not asking to play God, as playing Toby as Toby was intended is

Intended by whom?

>fine by me. If I want adoration, I get that from my dog. If I want
>better faculties, I'll work harder to get my group for research into
>brain injury in Australia into action (and become a member of a
>cryonics organization to make sure I too can enjoy the fruits of my
>labour). If I want more life, cryonics again, along with effective
>utilization of the time I have now.

>We need to set boundaries; what will we endow ourselves with given the

Why should anyone have the power to draw boundaries around
anyone else?  What justifies this intrusion?

>chance? Nanotechnology and cryonics are good and worthy technologies
>that will build as close to Paradise as you can get in an imperfect
>Universe, but will we go even further and end up as hovering
>quasi-gods in space somewhere directing cosmic phenomena with our
>minds or something and thereby lose our humanity?

Personally, I don't consider being human, in and of itself, to be
one of my goals.  If e.g. synthetic implants of some sort help me
acheive something that _is_ one of my goals, I don't want to be
impeded because some politician somewhere disapproves.

>I am asking for substantially less than a lot of people who are
>interested in cryonics. I also know a lot of people in the world ARE
>stupid enough to dislike vaccines and such. They're just mired in
>their religious or personal convictions and we can rightly condemn
>them until the cows come home but we also need to look at our own

Glad to see that you acknowledge that there are people who object
to existing medical technology, and that you see that as a mistake.

>Seriously, I believe proper functioning is the birthright of
>everybody. It is not too much to ask and neither should it be.  --

Who gets to define - and limit - what "proper" is?

There are limits on what is _feasible_, of course - I would guess
that your example of psychokinetically moving stars around is
permanently beyond them (simply because of momentum conservation,
speed of light delays, etc.).  When something is infeasible,
approval or disapproval is irrelevant.

The bulk of biomedical options are "unnatural", and disapproved by
at least some people.  This was true of anesthesia, of contraception,
of vaccination, is true of cryonics, and will probably be true of
any technology(ies) that significantly slows or stops aging.  I see
no legitimate reason for anyone to limit the bulk of biomedical
options as used by consenting adults.  I don't like your argument,
because it can be trivially twisted into: "No one has lived longer
than 122 years as of 2002.  This limit on lifespan is a holy part
of the human condition.  If anyone lives to 123, kill them!"  This
isn't wholly hypothetical.  Not only are there people in the world
who dislike vaccines, the head of the US's "bioethics" council,
Leon Kass, is on record as opposing lifespan extending research.

There are a tiny handful of biomedical options that have a direct
adverse effect on nonconsenting people - e.g. overuse of
antibiotics breeding resistant pathogens.  In those cases, and
those alone, I think the public use of force to restrict the
option is justifiable.
                                Best wishes,

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