X-Message-Number: 24962
Date: Mon, 1 Nov 2004 08:54:59 -0500
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: CryoNet #24940 - #24945

Hi everybody!

Some comments for those who wrote messages discussing some of the
points I made about virtually immortal people:

For Jonathan Hinek: The major problem with looking at the behavior
of present human beings to work out both the values and behavior
of future virtually immortal people lies in current mortality. We
currently live among people who believe they're unlikely even to 
reach 100 years age, and know that if they did so they would be
not strong, healthy, and competent but weak, sick, and defective.
It's the fact that these people believe so strongly that they
will die that death in all its forms dominates their imagination.
And why deaths through sudden illness, violence, etc? Because the
last kind of death they would want is without honor at all, as a 
slow, sick, and doddering old man or woman... which, if they don't
believe in the work on antiaging, looks to them as if it will be
their REAL fate.

As we all know, not only does death dominate their imagination but
it dominates their literature and interests too. Nowhere is there
simply love, it always seems to be love and death. And of course
so long as the deathrate remains high, more children are needed
to replace the dead, so that combination even looks rational.

For Randolph Wicker: To reply to your question I will first
consider just what is meant by "romance" in your title. It is not
that I claim virtually immortal people would lack attachments to
one another. But they would hardly be taken over by those attachments.
After all, given 50 or 100 years both parties would EXPECT to grow
in difference ways, and so grow into people that for practical
reasons, if for no other, could not continue to see one another so
often or live together as they had formerly done. The kind of 
intense preoccupation with one another that now occurs in young
people who have "fallen in love" simply would not happen in 
people each of whom was over 100 years old (but physically and
mentally still "young"). Not only that, but because they were
attached to one another for however long, they would probably
help one another to grow, and ultimately to grow away from one

Would history still remain of interest? There would still be a few
who wanted to know the details of what happened, say, 1000 years
ago before they were born. But history would fail to attract any
more general interest. If you've been through many changes, even
many wars (not that wars in the current sense would still continue)
they're all minor waves in a very deep ocean. Only a hydrodymamicist
interested in wave behavior remains interested in those minor waves,
and his/her interest is quite different from that of someone who
takes each wave as something serious. 

I would repeat to you what I've just said to Jonathan Hinek above.

Finally, you mistake me when I wrote of improving ourselves. I do
not know of any robot, computer, or machine which is an improvement
of ourselves. Certainly they can do things we cannot (put simply,
cars go much faster than we could run) but that doesn't make them
a fundamental improvement of human beings. However I do think that
even humans in the biological sense can and will be improved. They
would still keep a roughly human form, if only to help communication
and other relations with other humans.

As for cloning ourselves, given that we don't die, we'd be making 
competitors for ourselves, and very skilled ones at that. Hardly a
sensible idea. However if 2 or more people got together to create
an improved form of each of them, they'd be making a new human being;
and of course they wouldn't do that without space and resources
for that new human being. Finally, I suggested that 2 people would
usually be the group that did so, for a very simple reason: nowhere
in nature do we find more than 2 propagating sexes. Some animals
do have a neutral form separate from the two sexes, which does not
itself propagate. And cloning, particularly in one-celled creatures,
is quite common. However cloning fails to allow the mixture of ideas
which creation of a new creature, not just a copy of an old one, 

               Best wishes and long long life to all,

                       Thomas Donaldson

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