Sunday, February 12, 2006

Mindset expansion: immortality and cyborgs

The Immortality Institute’s 2005 documentary film, “Exploring Life Extension,” (DVD available at no charge) and Andy Clark’s 2003 book, “Natural-Born Cyborgs,” are two great resources for expanding one’s mindset into an entirely new level of what is possible, a scratch of the surface that opens up a whole new space for exploration.

Both represent ways in which people are increasingly likely to see the world, conceptually where the technological singularity was five years ago (not in terms of accuracy but in terms of required familiarity with the key ideas). The resources are wide-ranging in their topic portrayal, citing a variety academic, commercial and other work in the areas and pointing up current issues.

This blogpost focuses on “Exploring Life Extension.” Synthesizing the implications of the film, which seem to be correct, the most important ideas concerning immortality, or the more publicly palatable version, life extension, are that:

1) immortality is a natural, appropriate and laudable human aspiration, and

2) immortality is potentially increasingly realizable in three ways,

a) remaking ourselves manually with supplements, diet (plant-based, low-fat) and exercise, the old fashioned way, or also possibly via the anti-fat and other pills du jour of big pharma,

b) partaking in upcoming anti-aging bio and nano technologies, and

c) depending on (hopefully increasingly improving) cryonics.

One follow-up to “Exploring Life Extension” would be a more technical science film showing the current specifics of anti-aging biology, partly with the goal of increasing knowledge and support in the science community. Wider scientific support and more mainstream-like supporters and spokespeople will help to build a base from which to cross the chasm. Immortality has all the usual challenges of any grassroots movement plus deep challenges to long-held traditional religious, social, political and economic beliefs, perhaps an order of magnitude greater than those related to intelligent design.