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Immortality only 20 years away says scientist

Raymond Kurzweil is known for such seemingly far out predictions, but his track record and arguments seem worthy of serious consideration. Telegraph reports: "The 61-year-old American, who has predicted new technologies arriving before, says our understanding of genes and computer technology is accelerating at an incredible rate.

He says theoretically, at the rate our understanding is increasing, nanotechnologies capable of replacing many of our vital organs could be available in 20 years time."

The problem I see is in how accessible will such technologies become once they're available as well as concerns about attempts to heavily regulate it stifling their evolution and spread.

Comments

You're quite right about

You're quite right about many of the challenges you point out. I often think that the prevalent mentality in terms of morality and the way we organize socially is simply not up to the challenge of new technologies such as this. It sometimes seems like giving a nuclear bomb to a five year old to play with.

The basic problem I see is that people still think using violence and coercion is a legitimate way of solving moral and social problems. That I think is fundamental, but when you see what the conclusion of de-legitimizing coercion and violence is you probably wont like it (and most people don't) because it involves getting rid of this idea that governments can solve such problems.

As far as restricting the technology for a while is concerned, the problem is that you simply can't do it. Again it comes down to coercion. What regulation really comes down to is one group of people deciding for another how is that other group to use a particular technology. So you have created an elite that is essentially all powerful and others who are restricted by them. Are we supposed to just trust the elite? No, in fact.. this is precisely one step closer to the whole thing we wanted to prevent. Having an elite with special privileges with regards to deciding the use of a technology opens the door to precisely the kind of abuse we feared.

So I don't think regulation is the answer. I think the answer is education. Educate as much of the masses, especially people who are active in the media, activism, technology, philosophy, science etc. to be sensible about this. If you can't do it with education I'm afraid you can't do it any how. We should be desperate about education because it's the only way.

While nanotechnology that

 

While nanotechnology that extends our lifespans might seem like a good idea, maybe a better use for it would be to start by dealing with some of the more prevalent health problems in the third world countries. Additionally, we need to shift our social structures as well or we are going to have to either impose draconian restrictions on who can use it (most likely those that can afford to) to avoid a serious issue of over-population. Just because we can get a technology doesn't mean that it's a good idea to implement it before the social structures have caught up to deal with it.

This kind of technology also opens the door to some very nasty weaponry: nanotech plagues that target specific genetic sequences or technological devices, but once such entities are unleashed, especially when they are made to be adaptive and learn is another issue. How would you control something that can adapt and evolve? You might end up with a case like the Replicators in Stargate series.

Extending lifespans needs to be accompanied with the means to support the people, as well as the means to give the new generations a chance to make a living. If the job market is saturated with people who have 80+ years of experience in a field and are up to date on the technological advancements, where is the incentive to hire a young person? What happens when people continue reproducing as they do in Africa, for example, but more and more people survive. The high birth-rate of the 3rd World is balanced out by the high death rates.

We'd also have to have a paradigm shift in how capitalism is applied with respect to food production and how food is treated (should not be treated as a commodity) or the issue of people starving amid plenty because they cannot afford the food prices is only going to get worse.

I do not think that restricting the technology for a while until we are equipped to deal with all the ramifications of drastically extended lifespans via technology is a bad idea. If it's restricted to a few then we have essentially a class-based system with an effectively immortal elite. This can bring it's own set of problems.

These are just off the top of my head. I may revise my thoughts as I think about this more.

A small step forward?

A small step forward? Chemical in sperm 'may slow ageing process'. Apparently this is a second discovery within only few months that could lead to an anti-aging pill.

This sort of thing gives Kurzweil's predictions some credibility.