Longer Lifetimes, Good or Bad? page 2

42 posts

Flag Post

Who said life has to be linked to your body? It’s not entirely out of the question that neurons, or at least something “close enough”, can be created artificially. From there, if new neurons are introduced into the brain to replace those that die off, all other bodily functions can be replaced entirely.

This isn’t a matter of practicality… This can’t be done. Your body stops making neurons after your brain stops its development. This causes Alzheimer’s etc. Even if you could introduce new ones, it would disrupt the memories you currently have, therefore you would no longer be you, you would only be a conglomeration of neurons that have random memories interspersed over hundreds of years. Say it can be done, I think life would be incredibly boring and depressing over 500 years. Although, honestly, I wish I was born in a more advanced time.

Excellent point…. Why do all the smart people die young :/

It’s not so much that they die young (Einstein lived to 77), it’s just that they don’t think like young people do (Einstein’s last discovery of importance was at the age of 36). There goes more than half of Einstein’s life (And note the irony that the only time he was famous was in the time he was unproductive). Very depressing that you lose this way of thinking over time.

 
Flag Post

This isn’t a matter of practicality… This can’t be done. Your body stops making neurons after your brain stops its development. This causes Alzheimer’s etc. Even if you could introduce new ones, it would disrupt the memories you currently have, therefore you would no longer be you, you would only be a conglomeration of neurons that have random memories interspersed over hundreds of years. Say it can be done, I think life would be incredibly boring and depressing over 500 years. Although, honestly, I wish I was born in a more advanced time.

What exactly are memories? We have little idea how the brain “remembers” things.

Computers use parity bits and other things that allow them to partially reconstruct damaged data – given that the loss of one neuron in the hippocampus doesn’t seem to in itself cause memory loss, is it that much out of the question that a “neuron substitute” could “rebuild” its own memory contents from the human equivalent of parity data (if such a thing exists)?

 
Flag Post

Well, we do know that frequently used pathways in neurons are strengthened and channeled, and that “variable” information would be lost with the death of even 1 neuron. I don’t think these thousands of connections (per neuron) could be restored by new ones… Of course, as you said, we know very little, so even the idea of “new neurons” is hundreds of years in the future if it is even possible, so it is almost pointless that we talk about it now…

 
Flag Post

Your brain never stops making new neurons. And memories are not encoded in single neurons, but in the patterns between large groups of them. Those pattens can handle the loss and replacement of individual cells without a problem. It happens constantly throughout your life, as cells die and are replaced.

 
Flag Post

your brain never stops making new neurons.

Actually it does. A few organs such as the brain and the heart have the full number of cells that they are ever going to have at birth, all the brain adds is connections. As for longer life, the only way to lengthen life is to slow aging. Therefore the “smart people die young” problem would be void because young would be 200 instead of 20. Also the birth rate would decrease for the same reason. Just a thought.

 
Flag Post

mxmm: There’s an abundance of geniuses who died at very young ages. Galois and Ramanujan were two brilliant mathematicians in particular.

Anyway, in short, it’s an affirmation bias. Maybe 30% of the general population dies before 40…and similarly, 30% of geniuses die before 40. But you don’t remember the other 70% half as well as you remember those 30%.

 
Flag Post

No. It really doesn’t, syzygy12. That’s not even a reasonable assumption, both organs are still growing after you are born, of course they gain new cells. The heart can gain or lose cells depending on various factors, but in most adults the total number remains about the same, with cells being generated at the same rate at which they are lost.
The brain is the same.

 
Flag Post

Redem: The brain does not produce any new cells after birth. Connections between cells strengthen, but no new neurons are made.

Research has indicated that mature, “adult” neurons are capable of structural remodeling and growth, but there is no evidence that new “brain cells” are produced post-birth and a wealth of evidence against.

 
Flag Post

Your body surviving isn’t half as important as your mind surviving.

To a certain extent. It’d suck if you could only think and were stuck in a shell.

 
Flag Post

Yeah, but with the current research being done in mind-computer interfaces, you’d probably be able to do pretty much anything you want on a computer by the time that comes around. You could spend the next hundred years watching every video on Youtube 2.0, in glorious holographic imagery!

And of course, being able to do things on a computer means being able to do things in the real world thanks to robotics.

Hell, that’s what I want. Screw this fleshy meat-bag, I want to be put in a Bolo.

 
Flag Post

Bah, you don’t need to be anything more than a brain in a jar if you have internet access!

And by the time that dies off, you’ll have transferred all your memories and thought processes into silicon! Even better! Can’t work out math problems in time? Overclock your brain! Keep forgetting phone numbers before you can commit them to long-term memory? Install another RAM chip! The possibilities are endless!

 
Flag Post

Living much longer could be important in the colonization of space, as the idea of leaving Earth on multiple-hundred-year voyages would lack appeal to beings that could not survive at least the majority of the voyage.

 
Flag Post

I doubt you could keep someone alive for a voyage that spans for hundreds of years even if they didn’t need to worry about age.

Anyways, some of you guys are getting off topic a bit though. What I meant was “Is it ethical”.

 
Flag Post

im not really liking the idea ofreplacing neurons its like the ax problem, you get an ax and the handle breaks, so you get a new one (can be seen as your body expiring so you get a more robotic one), but then the head of the ax chips of and you get a new one (replacing neurons), in the end your left with a whole new ax, as you will be left with a whole new person, no longer the person who we had before

 
Flag Post

im not really liking the idea ofreplacing neurons its like the ax problem, you get an ax and the handle breaks, so you get a new one (can be seen as your body expiring so you get a more robotic one), but then the head of the ax chips of and you get a new one (replacing neurons), in the end your left with a whole new ax, as you will be left with a whole new person, no longer the person who we had before

There is a difference between a person and a body. (Assuming, of course, that you define a “person” by their mental rather than physical characteristics)

Your body might be replaced, but your “self” (which could be independent of your mind) might continue to exist.

An axe is defined entirely by its physical properties, while a person has “mental” properties that can be preserved through physical changes. So in this way, the “person” themselves remains the same, but their body changes.

 
Flag Post

Redem: The brain does not produce any new cells after birth. Connections between cells strengthen, but no new neurons are made.

That’s not even a plausible claim. The brain grows in size fairly significantly after you are born until you stop growing.

I realise it’s a commonly accepted “fact” that we are born with all the brain cells we will ever have, it’s also untrue.
http://www.mult-sclerosis.org/news/Jan2000/BrainResearch.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurogenesis

But hey, if you think that brains cannot grow new cells, please feel free to explain brain tumours. Given that tumours are essentially cells that are reproducing themselves uncontrollably, and affect all kinds of cells in the brain, including neurons.

 
Flag Post

As long as everyone has an equal chance of having their life prolonged, it doesn’t negatively impact others (as in something like severe resource depletion, excluding the said person being an ass), and people aren’t forced to live a longer life, I don’t see how it wouldn’t be ethical (superficial analysis for now).

I suppose, though, that to people who believe that life should end when it would normally end, it might be unethical.