X-Message-Number: 18498
From: "Toby Christensen" <>
Date: Wed, 06 Feb 2002 19:17:10 +0800
Subject: Rebuttal

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? 

 Toby writes: Humanity in general needs to come to the realization that we need 
 to live as beings that are still recognizably human, long lives or not. 

>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? 

Toby writes: Absolutely not. I would personally not use anything past a walking 
stick, but if you want to use different stuff, do it then. 

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

Intended by whom? 

 Toby writes: Intended by my genotype.  

>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? 

Toby writes: We face that same question in having a police force. (I would 
prefer a militia.) We need not overdo it.  

>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. 

Toby writes: I would prefer an undamaged brain  enhanced by the new memory pills
that are being seized on by the media, hypnosis if necessary and  to generally 
be allowed to enjoy the sanity, physical and intellectual freedom, unaffected by
a tyranny of brain injury and depression. Hardware to enhance my brain is of 
little interest to me; I at least want to experience my "wetware" functioning 
properly first. 

>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!" 

Toby writes: Well, if anyone argues that we should kill long lived people, I'm 
against that, as I am against killing people. I fail to see how my argument can 
be twisted into such a perverse notion. 

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. 

Toby writes: Then have this Krass person resign from office. Apply the 
appropriate pressure. 

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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