The immortal brain

New Scientist has an article and video interviews with several transhumanists who are attempting to make the human brain immortal by reversing neural ageing, implanting stem cells and uploading the mind to a computer.

Transhumanism is a movement that aims to enhance the limits of human capabilities through techology.

The ideas stretche from the reasonable and shortly to be possible, to the outlandish and barely conceivable.

Unlike some other slightly left-field movements, it’s got some heavy-weight scientists attached to it. This means it’s rarely dull and at the very least it’s thought-provoking, even when it does stretch to the outer limits of sci-fi philosophy.

The New Scientist article discusses the possibilities of escaping death by developing the cutting edge of biotech.

Sandberg and his fellow transhumanists plan to bypass death by using technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), genetic engineering and nanotechnology to radically accelerate human evolution, eventually merging people with machines to make us immortal. This may not be possible yet, the transhumanists reason, but as long as they live long enough – a few decades perhaps – the technology will surely catch up.

To many, these ideas sound seriously scary, and transhumanists have been attacked for jeopardising the future of humanity. What if they ended up creating a race of elite superhumans bent on enslaving the unmodified masses, or unwittingly programmed an army of self-replicating nanobots that would turn us all into grey goo? In 2004, political scientist Francis Fukuyama singled out transhumanism as the world’s “most dangerous idea”.

If you think these fears are unreasonable, have a look at some of the Marvin Minsky quotes later in the article. He obviously wants to be robot overlord when SkyNet becomes sentient.

Link to New Scientist article ‘The plan for eternal life’.
Link to video interview with Sandberg, de Grey and Bostrom.

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