Would you freeze your brain?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis
Richard Jones on Transhumanism... Robert Frank on Success and Lu...

In this week's episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts chats with physicist and transhumanism skeptic Richard Jones about nanotechnology, life extension, and the perils and promise of technology. Are you a techno-optimist? Would you cryogenically freeze yourself in hopes that you'd be revived in the future? Do we spend enough energy today on alleviating end-of-life illness and suffering? Let us know what you think...As always, we love to hear from you.

1. What's the difference between designed and evolved systems, according to Jones? Which is more descriptive of the human brain? To what extent do you think it's possible that a "wiring diagram" for the brain will be discovered? cryonics.jpg

2. What do radical nanotechnology and the socialist calculation debate have in common? To what extent do you agree that this is an apt analogy?

3. What's Eroom's Law? Does Eroom's Law provide evidence of technological stagnation?

4. Roberts suggests that stagnation might be observed because we are measuring productivity incorrectly. Revisit this 2014 episode with Diane Coyle, in which she describes some of the challenges with using GDP as a measure of progress. What is her proposed solution, and to what extent would her solution mitigate the problem Jones suggests this week?

5. Roberts posed an interesting question somewhat offhandedly while he and Jones were discussing "radical life extension." Since their conversation didn't get around to this question, we want to hear what you think. Should our focus be on extending life or improving the quality of life when we're younger? Explain your answer.

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COMMENTS (3 to date)
Devan Scott Neal writes:

Question 5
The answers to any of these questions. especially this one, cannot find a solution outside of any numbers of concrete, canonical, moral world views that are prescriptive to that individual. These world views are subjective and clash if someone subscribes to one vs the other. The real question should center on what can we agree/cooperate on within this society of competing world views? How do we know we have come to an amicable agreement, and what does it look like?
It would seem that this question should be left to the individuals. Any involvement of the state would signify an adoption of a particular moral view point and all of its associated 'baggage'.
I do not believe that i can give a definitive answer. But i guess since I am 26 i am in favor of giving to the young and support the tradition of the Eskimos!

P.S. The answer to how society should deal with such fundamental views is best expressed in The Foundation of Bioethics by Dr. Herman T. Engelhardt.
I would highly suggest him as a future guest. His range of knowledge is vast and his personality is that of a typical proud Texan with the gift of gab. He would be a treat for both the listeners and the interviewer. His treatise speaks to the reality and complexity of our time. Thank you.

jw writes:

A very topical xkcd today:

Brain Upload

1. I think that one of the most surprising things about evolved systems is that they actually look kind of designed (by a "blind watchmaker"). A biological system is not a chaotic molecular soup. We can model many biological processes without taking into account the state of each molecule in the system. The human mind is also a biological process. For these reasons the required granularity of simulation might be somewhere between the neural and molecular levels.

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