Hardware

Dying for immortality? You just may have to.

In this guest post, TR member Todd Fluhr offers a very real scenario about synthetic brain tissue replacement and asks his IT peers for their opinions about this type of research.
This guest post was written by TR member Todd Fluhr.

Consider this scenario. Let's say I've created a synthetic replacement for brain tissue. This material is wholly non-organic but it can serve as a raw, unformatted substitute. Now, let's say we replace 1% of your current brain with it. You maybe lose a memory or two (how did apples taste?).

You may experience a little loss of your motor skills. But let's give you a week to retrain your hand-eye coordination to eat that apple. Train the new synthetic tissue and migrate memories to the new space. In no time at all, you'd be back to normal.

A week later, let's do another 1%. Lose a tiny bit of memory, learn new things. Next week, rinse and repeat. In about two years, you will have a completely synthetic brain immune to aging, death through oxygen loss, or biochemical imbalance. You may even think faster and be able to directly interface with your new cell phone, or bypass it directly.

My question: did I kill you in the process? If so, when? At 51%? 1%? 99%? Was there a point when your "soul" decided enough is enough and jumped ship? Are you the organic tissue, the "hardware"? Or are you the software of your brain? Can we upgrade or migrate you across platforms? Once synthetic, how about paying a little extra for an external backup?

This is a very real scenario.  Brain prosthetic research is currently in the testing phase. Please post your thoughts and opinions in the discussion thread.

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

124 comments
clebermag
clebermag

I will simplify a lot my "soul definition" to put my oppinion: I think that our "soul" is the "software" that is runnig in our body - hardware - but I don't imagine "soul" as a spirit itself, I imagine "soul" the state of our mind, the idea that bring us to life. At this scenario, It's a great idea to backup it. But I must consider that this backup must be an "halted state" of our mind, in a given moment, because life experience has a direct connection with our body. Mind without body sense (no vision, no sound, no tact, etc) , will leave the mind to a crasy state and may be corrupted. If there is no body to put our "backups", it has no sense. But here comes a new problem: Is there a possibility to create another body, that matches the brain, but have no concience? As I can see, there are many things to consider, until it comes to reality, but the idea to backup the brain is very cool.

cerewa
cerewa

people who get brain injuries that cause them to be unable to walk sometimes relearn - same if they forget what the taste of an apple is. there's a tendency to compensate for certain parts not working (we'll just route that signal through a different place) so that you have to damage a pretty big portion of it before you any harm that makes workarounds impossible. one way of looking at it though is "what kinds of tasks can be accomplished by a natural person" and compare that to a person who's being kept "immortal" by way of a synthetic brain. will the person with the synthetic brain actually be suited to the kinds of work we give to computers? i'm imagining the headlines: "five years ago IBM's CEO downloaded his memories to a synthetic brain sitting in a data center somewhere in california. having worked out many of the bugs in the synthetic brain, he is now planning to consult for the company for two hours a week and then lay on the beach; the executive leadership of the company will be turned over to the synthetic brain. IBM's profits should see a five-fold improvement next year after the synthetic CEO receives a major upgrade to its memory and processor.

mbaker2311
mbaker2311

This - while perhaps a real possibility - is a hoary staple of SF that always bothered me, especially when they use it for matter transmittal. If your entire being is "converted" to energy or information or some non-matter, when that matter that is you is no more, are you killed, even if reconstituted in atom for atom somewhere else? And for theists, it gets even trickier - most would say "souls" are not matter, so what happens to them when the matter shell containing the soul is no more? As to the question, I would say that it is unlikely to ever matter - you cannot retrain the brain perfectly. If you take away 1 percent of the brain, and insert the synthetic, it will train itself anew, it will be a new phenomenon, a new person, 1 percent different than before, not because of the synthetic tissue, but because it will retrain the apple or coordination in a different new way. The apple may taste differently, the motor skills may be better or worse, but they will not be the same. So, at 1 percent, you have 99 percent old person, 1 percent new. By the time you replace the whole brain, it will be a wholly new person.

SuperSnail
SuperSnail like.author.displayName 1 Like

Looks like we are getting back into the old argument of "Are we the the sum of our biological parts; or the combination of our knowledge and experiences". If I can learn and communicate without my physical body, am I still me? Still, I might like them to repair the brain if my body was still viable to self sufficiency.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

Have you that, now? Think about it. If the electric disappeared, do you have the knowledge and skills to survive without the technology upon which our daily lives depend?

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

I like to think of it as self-directed evolution to an advanced species, only we get to keep our cell phone addresses intact and face book profiles updated.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler like.author.displayName 1 Like

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mark_of_Gideon A bunch of immortal breeders could wreak freaking havoc. :|

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

If one could go back a few hundred years to London or any large city of the time, and give them a glimpse of today's huge urban sprawls of Tokyo or New York, might they have the same reaction we're having to the thought of an over-populated future? The infrastructure of 400 years ago wouldn't support a modern mega-city, so obviously they'd think it impossible to sustain.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

look like villages in the 16th century. How they coped with that was down to social organisation, naff all to do with technology as such. Do yourself a favour look up population densities by country. The US is about 30 people per km squared, Japan is 330, no room to sprawl. The also live longer now. Thing is could you learn to live as they do, before your population increased. Then there are other problems, they are smaller and they don't eat as much, not to mention they'll eat things that would make you pale. Raw squid in fermented bean curds anyone, makes a MacDonald look palatable....

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

Where is the food grown? How is enough of it grown? There's only so much space available on the planet. How much of that space is suitable for food crops? Where are the animals we use for food kept? What about water? Maybe a third of the water on this planet is potable. Finite, you know. Limited.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler like.author.displayName 1 Like

I die before eating meat is banned. Love the stuff. ]:) Ain't nuttin' warmer than fur, too.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

will be banned inside the next 20 years. I mean... giving food to animals? Ridiculous.

mcswan454
mcswan454 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

I'm having flashbacks to Doctor Who and the Rise of the Cybermen. That never ended well for them either. M.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr like.author.displayName 1 Like

I'm just surprised no one has mentioned the Borg yet.

dh9777usa1
dh9777usa1 like.author.displayName 1 Like

If one has a totally synthetic brain how would it interface with the rest of the body? Could it be detached and placed in another receptacle? (a particular Trek episode comes to mind) In any event the rest of the world including the government would progress along with that level of technology and if the restrictive laws don't hinder you the taxes surely would!

toddfluhr
toddfluhr like.author.displayName 1 Like

The new definition of A.I might very well be "Artificial I" I think the main advantage of a synthetic brain would be the ability to interface and download it, or upgrade it, without destroying "you". No need to haul it around in a jar: just hook it up to the network and do a ghost image. hehe

dbarnard1
dbarnard1 like.author.displayName 1 Like

All the complexities of definition aside, I will take a crack at answering strictly from my own personal world view. I have a single stream of consciousness that I am aware of (one that doesn't even multitask particularly well) that has evolved continuously since I was conceived. I choose to define that stream as "Me". Regardless of changes in My cellular structure since that time, the "Me" has persisted (and hopefully will for some time to come). It includes My memories, beliefs, analytical and creative abilities, and My habit of chewing My lip when I think too hard about stuff like this. If you replace every cell in My body with newly grown cells or synthetic equivalents, or if you upload me into a silicon-based computer that can perfectly simulate the functioning of my cells, I will continue to be Me. If you change the structure of My body in that process (for instance, neglect to include My nervous system or My chewed up lip in the upload) I will change as a person, but I will still be Me as long as that thread of consciousness (from My perspective) continues. If you back Me up to disc and then restore Me 1000 years later on new hardware, I will still be the same Me, as long as I retain that previous string of consciousness. If you clone Me 1,000 times, each Me will start as the same person, but will immediately begin accumulating unique thoughts and experiences that will make them new individuals - All of whom have an equal right to claim being Me, and therefore are collectively an evolved version of Me ("MultiMe").

toddfluhr
toddfluhr like.author.displayName 1 Like

I find your points persuasive and compelling. In general, I am in complete agreement with you, particularly your point about stream of consciousness. I'd wonder how normal sleeping would fit into the argument of the need for stream of consciousness between the old "you" and newer version? After all, normal sleep disrupts our flow of consciousness during sleep. Do I wake up a different person every morning?

dbarnard1
dbarnard1 like.author.displayName 1 Like

A very good point. How do you classify dreaming? in some sense it's a continuation of the stream, but with almost no recall. In another sense, though, it is a disconnect since the "stream of unconsciousness" is only loosely related to our waking consciousness and reset every morning. Since experiences from one day to the next are directly linked, though, I think it's safe to think of it as an uninterrupted stream. Or maybe a chain is a better analogy...

dbarnard1
dbarnard1 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

To address the first question, I guess it depends on how you define "you". soul, spark, bag of bones, highly complex and adaptive software algorithm... Here's another complexity - although my comprehension of neuroscience is limited, if I understand correctly certain patterns of recognition and response aren't even stored in your brain - your optic nerve, for instance, starts to interpret and abstract what you see before it ever reaches your brain. I guess something similar would happen with nerves in other parts of your body. So would you have to replace your entire nervous system for you to be you? As for the political, economic, and ethical implications - If we resign ourselves to camping out in this solar system for the rest of eternity, granting everyone eternal life is not practical as we would quickly outgrow our limited resources. And having a superclass of eternals lording it over an underclass of ephemerals scares the %^&$ out of me. But if we accept that it is our "manifest destiny" as biological organisms to evolve and spread in whatever form we can, this might be the solution for colonizing the galaxy and beyond. Of course that also scares the %^&$ out of me...

toddfluhr
toddfluhr like.author.displayName 1 Like

It does create a nightmare vision of an upper class of immortals with super-fast brains and instant networking. They'd have wealth, instant entertainment, and apparently endless opportunities. I wonder if that's how some third-world countries see the US? I suspect if such a technology did become possible, however, it would be obsolete before it became practical. Take as an example "bionic arms and legs". Technology is darn close to the classic sci fi dream of replacing lost limbs with better, faster bio-cybernetics. BUT. We are also on the edge of regrowing lost limbs via stem cell and other technologies. If given a choice between Steve Austin's bionic arm or a real flesh and blood replacement, which would most people really opt for? A bionic limb may hold an appeal for some for novelty or status, but most people really like having all their original body parts in factory-mint condition. Heck, if recombinant DNA enhancements or stem-cell augmented improvements come along, it makes the choice even more of a no-brainer. I personally suspect the option of a synthetic brain tissue will go the same route. By the time this technology becomes available (50 - 100 years from now is my guess), we'll be resetting our own DNA for perfect health and performance through organic means, or continually repairing our cells with nano-machines. The future is what it is, and mostly that's unpredictable.

Regulus
Regulus like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Better Science Fiction is sometimes known as Science-Fact. Asimov and many others took many solid concepts and stretched them in their various novels. Dan Simmons took 'immortality' as one of the many threads in his 'Hyperion/Endymion series. (4 very large volumes). Even if you're not a sci-fi buff, you'll probably enjoy it.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

I'd also recommend Vernor Vinge.

RockerGeek!
RockerGeek! like.author.displayName 1 Like

We are made up mostly of our thoughts... and memories, etc. But I also think some of our personality (and therefore part of who we are) is hard-coded somewhere in us. Our DNA maybe? For example, I'll use myself and my sister. She's only 17 months younger than me, so you'd think we'd have grown up close to each other. You couldn't be more wrong! We're complete opposites (even at birth), and so we haven't gotten that "sisterly bond" until recently. We have the same parents- never separated. We were raise the exact same way and had the same rules. Yet not only did we come into the world physically different, our personalities and life viewpoints, etc, are worlds apart. Part of who you are gets shaped through life experiences, but what bout the first couple years of life when it's just you and family? Is there a small amount of personality that shifts in the DNA strand each time parents come together and have a new child? Or are our memories and experiences the only thing that makes you who you are? Do we even deserve to know the answer?

toddfluhr
toddfluhr like.author.displayName 1 Like

but migrating to a synthetic platform wouldn't negate your past experiences and development. It's like saying my heart was influenced by my genes (true), so if I get a replacement heart it won't be as good (false).

RockerGeek!
RockerGeek!

"but migrating to a synthetic platform wouldn't negate your past experiences and development" That's only if they are able to perform the actual migration of the memories- which depends on if they are actually located in the brain. If that were the case, then I'm sure some rich person out there would want to be "immortal" in that sense. But a new brain doesn't stop your body from aging, and unless we figure out how to create vampires, it's gonna be bionics for them. Then the new question arises- do you even want to live forever?

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

I at least want the option to choose not to die.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj like.author.displayName 1 Like

Let's start with what defines a person. Body is irrelevant. Christopher Reeves and Stephen Hawkin effectively have no bodies. No onw would argue that they aren't, or weren't, persons. Therefore, a person is defined by their mind. People are defined by their memories. Since memories are mostly cumulative, so too are personalities a sum of all memories up to that point. Perosnality being an emergent property. Virtually no one would say I'm not the same person I was yesterday. But they would not recognize the me of 20 years ago. So if personality change is gradual, you remain the same person; but if personality change is abrupt, and more than a few days worth of memory accumulation, you're effectively a different person. A memory change of 1% for me at age 52 consists of 189 days worth of memories. That's a significant chunk and would result in a detectable personality change. Ergo, I wouldn't be the same me. I've had friends who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. And friends and relatives with Alzheimers. They lost memories and capability. They were not the same personality. Therefore they were not the same person. The real question is, are memories stored in the brain, or does the brain "merely" provide an easier access tool to reach some other place or form where memories are stored, like a non-corporeal soul, or within the fabric of space-time? If I reside apart from my physicial brain, then replacement of the brain just means I've switched from a rotary dial analog phone to a touch-tone digital one; but the non-corporeal person talking through it remains the same.

dbarnard1
dbarnard1 like.author.displayName 1 Like

I've had friends who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. And friends and relatives with Alzheimers. They lost memories and capability. They were not the same personality. Therefore they were not the same person. Disagree. My Grandmother had Alzheimers. She lived with it for over a decade, continuing to function long after all her communication skills, memory, most higher brain functions had ceased to function. But at one point I went to visit her, said something that didn't seem particularly notable to me, and her eyes lit up, and she gave a full laugh that was every bit the joyus laugh that she had possessed earlier in life. No one can tell me that she didn't retain some core piece of who she had been previously.

Foggier
Foggier like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

I think that makes a very important point. The "you" is defined differently subjectively versus objectively. If some "Freaky Friday" thing happened to my wife and her mind was put in another body, the person in that body would still be my wife: I would know. In that case, I'm also sure she would know. Objectively and subjectively the same. But, if I get a traumatic brain injury, I may become someone different to my wife, but I am still me to me. Objectively different, but subjectively the same. If I get Alzheimer's and (in effect) regress to before I was married, to me I'm still me (albeit perhaps a "earlier" me), but again I am objectively different. How about certain kinds of psychoses where one believes themselves to be someone different? Does that actually make them a different person? Frankly, when it comes right down to it, you have to live with other people. If THEY think you're someone else (or the same person), perhaps it doesn't matter who YOU think you are. You CAN "die" to other people but still, to yourself, be living and conscious. In the case initially proposed in this blog, I suggest a sort of "Turing Test" with your closest acquaintances: If they say you're you, you are. If not, the old you is dead...but the new you is born. "You" would need to accept that, because you know if YOU were the judge, you'd decide the same way.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Frankly, being judged "human" or "me" by an external peer group subject to religious, racial, political, or other whimsical criteria is not what I'd feel comfortable with as a basis of deciding if I were allowed to go on living or not. Oh, I'm not as compassionate as I ought to be and thus not a real person? Any criteria for determining an individual's self-awareness and right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of coffee at 3:00 AM in the morning, must be based on that being's self-awareness. But as you adroitly noted by referring to the Turing Test, such definitions are rapidly becoming impossible to determine when dealing with AI and genetically modified animals.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr like.author.displayName 1 Like

If your brain were being replaced suddenly and unexpectedly, then yes absolutely, the new "you" isn't you. But! If it's done slowly, over a great enough span of time to allow for a low migration of your "self" and new memories, then how would that be different from the way "you've" changed from childhood to adult?

GSG
GSG like.author.displayName 1 Like

You have only solved the problem of the brain dying. The organs and other parts of the body usually give out long before the brain is ready to go. You'd have to solve the problem of heart failure, kidney failure, etc... first.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr like.author.displayName 1 Like

There are medical technologies ranging from resetting the DNA "time code" (see tellarites modification research) to stem-cell replacement / regeneration of organs. Chances are, within the next 20 years we'll have medical technologies that allow the body to outlive the brain's practical shelf-life. Wouldn't it be ironic to unlock the body time-clock to extend healthy living 150 to 200 years, but have the brain's hard-drive fill up and wear out by age 120?

GSG
GSG like.author.displayName 1 Like

One of my longtime favorite authors, Anne McCaffrey did a series of books called the Brainship series. In that series, people who were born with a sound mind, but infirm body that would either kill them or keep them from having a normal life, were put into the brainship program. They were placed into life support systems directly connected to their brains, and then trained for specific tasks. The first books were dedicated to the brain ships. Ships that had one of these people placed in it's core, and that was then matched with a "brawn", or physical person. The ship essentially became the body of the brain, whose lifespan was greatly increased. One of the later books was about a "brain" that was a space station who never could get a good match with a brawn. That was an awesome book. Anyway, the whole point was that it's our bodies holding our brains back, and that if our brain didn't have to haul us around, it could do amazing things. Oh, and the funny thing is that when some of the "brains" retired, they went into movies. For example, they'd be put into a lifesize model of a dinosaur and run the dinosaur for the movie. Imagine Transformers filmed with no need for CGI.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr like.author.displayName 1 Like

I can do nothing but applaud the point you make. Once we're free of the organic limitations, nothing is impossible. I'm sure this will happen within the lifetime of our great grandchildren. I wish it were sooner.

M Wagner
M Wagner like.author.displayName 1 Like

If your own brain tissue could be cloned (which is certainly theoretically possible today) and if it were implanted in your damaged brain, retraining it seems a lot more feasible than what you are suggesting with a synthetic brain. If such a prosthetic brain could be developed it would be just as suscepticle to failure as any other human invention. On the other hand, a prosthetic brain could lead to the "humaniform" robots (a la Isaac Asimov) and all of the moral issues which would arise with a SENTIENT - but human-built device.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr like.author.displayName 1 Like

You have cleverly exposed this as the metaphor it is. Stem cell technology does provide the possibility of replacing old or damaged brain tissue with fresh young unformatted tissue. So the exact question remains: if an old or dying brain can be slowly replaced with something new (even cells grown from the host), will that be the same person once the old brain has been replaced by new tissue? It's a fascinating question. As to the value of synthetic over organic, yes, synthetic is prone all sorts of mishaps, but so is organic. Which risk seems more palatable? Brain decay through old age, stroke, or cancer? Or losing function due to a bad sector on the hard-drive? My only thought on this is that I might be able to back-up the synthetic info in case of failure. When organic stuff goes, it really goes.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

would anyone want immortality in this particular frame of existence, I'd like to know. We're not at all a nice bunch in how we do our planet and its other occupants...

toddfluhr
toddfluhr like.author.displayName 1 Like

One might well ask why use penicillin or antibiotics in general, or opt for live-saving transplants or vital medications. I'm not sure I understand your argument. If I read it correctly, it seems to imply that we should all just hurry up and die in order to somehow preserve the planet and lower lifeforms. Or at least, leave them alone until they are naturally exterminated by an asteroid or eventual solar collapse of our sun.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Immortality is the triumph of the individual, and the cost will be hideous if we don't plan for it as a race. Lower lifeforms, would be humans who couldn't afford it. Forget am I still me? Think am I still human?

toddfluhr
toddfluhr like.author.displayName 1 Like

It would be a case of Neanderthals creating their own Cro-Magnon replacements.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler like.author.displayName 1 Like

Why such limited immortality. Not only are we not particularly nice, this particular manner (flesh, material) of existence is pretty limited. I (deliberately) implied no such thing. If you read it there, you've manifested a limitation of this form of existence. [i]Other occupants includes people besides myself.[/i]

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

I didn't mean to say you implied anything specific: I merely indicated I wasn't sure if I was understanding your point. The fault in understanding was completely my own. As to the question of the inhumanity of humanity, that's a much deeper issue.

tlrcs
tlrcs like.author.displayName 1 Like

Sonja asks: "Are you the organic tissue, the ???hardware???? Or are you the software of your brain?" If the "mind" is the "software" and the brain organ the "hardware" are memories software or data?

toddfluhr
toddfluhr like.author.displayName 1 Like

The short answer is "both". Sorry.

cpetit
cpetit like.author.displayName 1 Like

This excellent story touched on this very topic. In it, the protagonist, like everyone else in his world, has a small crystal called the "jewel" implanted in his brain. As he matures, the crystal has its 'thoughts' corrected every instant, so they mirror his own. The protagonist isn't sure if the jewel is the same as the organic brain, and spends a long time trying to decide this. At some point in their lives, people switch so their "jewel" now acts as them, with their brain scooped out and replaced by a non-sentient matter that takes oxygen, nutrients and such to keep the body in balance. Is that still the same person? If the thoughts precisely mirror what the organic brain "would have thought". What if there are differences, due to introspection upon the jewel's part (if the person was very introspective as well)? I guess the basic question is what defines a person.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr like.author.displayName 1 Like

As Shakespeare said, "There's the rub."

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 4 Like

Why bother with this sort of drivel, natural versus artificial cells is trivial compared to the impact of the technology. It's mere existence would be lead to a massive economic, social, religious and ecological upheaval. You sit there looking at your navel and wondering if it's still yours, I'm paddling to Mars to get away from the sort of loons who would do this.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr like.author.displayName 1 Like

Tony, I like to think of hypothetical excursions such as this as metaphors for other relevant situations. For example, this entire conversational thread could easily apply to a discussion of stem-cell technology and organ regrowth. What if raw brain tissue could be generated and regenerated via stem cells? While the tissue would have a normal life span, it's not outside the realm of possibilities that such a process could be maintained indefinitely. Imagine a stem-cell treatment of complete brain tissue replacement every 20 years or so. Assuming other geriatric advancements, your effective lifespan might be greatly extended and your brain kept young and active with periodic stem cell tissue.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Like How much would life insurance cost? How would those religions that see death as transition to the next phase of existance greet teh fact that it was now optional? If you had a life span measured in millenia, how much of it would you want to spend in a sh1t job? How long would you be prepared to take crap off someone for $10 an hour. What woudl it do the concept of family. And the real killer, literally, longevity for whom? Worse still! How long would we have to put up with Z list celebrities?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Otherwise immortality could be bad for your health.... No doubt 6 billion and counting, others would say the same.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

How much would life insurance cost? A: It, along with other anti-aging treatments, would be completely covered under your current HMO. The reason: 92% of ALL health care costs in an individual's life is incurred due to aging and happens at end-of-life duirng the last 10 years or so of a person's lifespan. By paying for the "forever young" gene therapy and brain upgrade, your healthcare provider will A: save all that "end of life" expense, and keep you paying premiums forever! How would those religions that see death as transition to the next phase of existance greet teh fact that it was now optional? A: Most would reject the technology and view the modified people as souless zombies. Don't worry. Normal non-augmented people would be extinct within 3 generations. If you had a life span measured in millenia, how much of it would you want to spend in a **** job? A: For the same reasons we spend our adult lives now in dead-end jobs. I'd much more prefer spending 40 years at a job if I knew I had another 80 years afterwards to live. Spending the same 40 years on a job seems such a waste if all I have are 41 years to play with. How long would you be prepared to take crap off someone for $10 an hour. A: Until I found a good place to bury the body, or a sugar momma to whisk me off to her remote villa. What woudl it do the concept of family. A: Families would continue to fragment and decay (see the subject of the current nuclear family) while social networking and bonding would be enhanced by direct neural interfacing. And the real killer, literally, longevity for whom? A: Me. The rest can go play with the dinosaurs. How long would we have to put up with Z list celebrities? A: Until the great Reboot in 3042 A.D. when a careless janitor accidentally hits the government's master shut down control on the human race.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

in twenty more, you say, they'll be snorting Family Planning Derivatives?

NickNielsen
NickNielsen like.author.displayName 1 Like

I'll bring the beer...

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson like.author.displayName 1 Like

at least as long as it lasts. :) Course if we are immortal, we'll need lots of it...

toddfluhr
toddfluhr like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Now there's a conundrum! If a synthetic brain were resistant to biochemical malfunctions, it would be impossible to get drunk or experience a high of any kind. Unless you programmed the tissue to allow it. This alone makes the technology VERY unappealing!

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

Indeed, any electronic migration / simulation would be by definition apart from the normal organic bio-chemical influences, so there would be a drastic effect on the "personality". From the obvious (no more nicotine highs, no more drunken buzz, etc) to the subtle (the quirks of malfunction resulting in creativity, some nightmares, paranoia, etc) that influence our personalities. Unless we "programmed" the simulant to simulate these effects, it would be like turning into an instant Vulcan. I'm reminded of a cool little film called "Cold Souls". In that film, an actor discovers a company that can (for a price) remove your soul and put it in storage. The actor does this, but then discovers he's lost his ability to "feel" any strong emotions. His acting turns "Shatner-esque" and his life becomes colorless. He goes back to reclaim his soul but finds that it has been sold on the Russian Black market to a porn actress...... well, you have to see the movie. My point is, maybe, just maybe, our chemical imbalances are what we actually mean by the term "soul".

seanferd
seanferd

Does the synthetic tissue react as natural tissue would to all the chemical signaling the body uses? If not, then no, one would not be the same person at all, but would be somewhat non-human.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

... someone chooses "pukalicious." My immediate reaction was "never," but then I have to admit to having "chosen" it by my actions many times in the past...

toddfluhr
toddfluhr like.author.displayName 1 Like

Being able to "set" one's brain to be drunk, happy, creative, musical, etc, is a deeply intriguing concept. Instead of medicating biochemical changes, it might lead to a whole industry of pharma-wetware neural "drugs". -- "Reboot twice daily and call me in the morning."

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

To each it's own inebriation dial... set it to tingly, pissed, hammered, pukalicious or anything in between... or simply press "shuffle", if you want to be surprised.