X-Message-Number: 19855
From: "Francois" <>
Subject: The problems of biological immortality
Date: Tue, 20 Aug 2002 20:26:11 -0400

The aim of most of CryoNet's subscribers is to achieve immortality. This, in
principle, can be done in many ways, some emotionally more satisfying than
others. The prefered vision of immortality emerging from the many posted
messages seems to be purely biological in nature. Either people die, are
cryopreserved and revived when the needed technology becomes available, or
medical science advances fast enough to vanquish aging before people die.
The resulting individuals look exactly as we do today, except that they
forever remain physically young.

This, however, presents a problem. To illustrate it, suppose one of our
distant ancestors, a Homo Habilis for instance, became immortal three
million years ago. How this could have happened is irrelevant, it is enough
to imagine that it did. This immortal Habilis could then still be alive
today, but he would obviously be completely obsolete from the point of view
of intelligence, having been left far behind by our much better and keener
minds. Evolution would not have stopped just because he became immortal, and
it would have quickly transformed him into an actual living fossil.

Purely biological immortals will always suffer this fate. It is not easy for
a living creature to "upgrade" itself. Normally, old individuals die long
before this becomes a problem, but we will prevent this from happening.
Immortal Homo Sapiens will suffer the fate of my hypothetical Homo Habilis,
and probably much sooner than he would have because we will be faced with
entities that can "evolve" much faster than any biological organisms. I'm
speaking of the intelligent machines that will have to exist at the time of
our reanimations. Biological brains have very strict limits, and we are very
close to them right now. Machine brains don't have those limits. It has been
demonstrated that machines can enhance their capacities up to literal
infinity. The only way for us to cope with this problem will be to join the
machines on their own turf and convert ourselves into machine entities. Then
our minds will acquire the infinite enhancement potential of the machines.
Biological immortality can only be seen as a temporary stepping stone to a
different realm of existence.

No lifespan shorter than eternity is acceptable

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