Thursday 9 August 2007

Life Extension Movement

This stuff is creepy! If we all lived forever then we'd run out of space on Earth.I couldn't cope with more than a natural lifespan anyway. I enjoy my life, but it's also very painful too. I'd rather die and take the risk. I might go to a worse place, but then again I might go to a better one.

This is a promotional film, not an investigation, so it makes no attempt to explore alternative viewpoints to a significant degree. There's a very brief sequence where the interviewees philosophize about the possiblity that perhaps even if we fail to live forever in our current existance, there's an existance beyond that. But they see the issue in a very dated and simplistic way. They say things like "Well I'm not sure what's after death so I'm hedging my bets" or "There's just no evidence". This is debatable, even in the same scientific circles that they're a part of. They seem to have quite a 19th Century view of the soul debate. It's "either-or": Heaven/hell in the religious sense or neurochemical shutdown: oblivion. It takes no acount of many of the research into Near-death experience etc.

The bit on nanotechnology was very interesting and probably the most feasible part of the programme. I have major misgivings over the logic behind "transhumanism" though. The idea that you can reproduce a person's mind in a computer and store it like you would an eletronic document is based on the assumption that the mind is merely chemicals and electrical signals in the brain. This is a dubious position, I think. Nobody knows what the mind is. We can observe electrical activity in the brain that relates to waking consciousness, but this is a very different thing from mind itself. It may be possible to create an artifical intelligence; a machine with a mind, but that doesn't mean that your mind and mine can be shuttled to and from the same databases as that intelligence! Here's another short clip where Janet Street-Porter interviews that Rasputin-lookalike from the fist film, Aubrey de Grey. (How the hell can you trust this guy with genetics when he doesn't even know what a bloody razor is!? ):


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