In this 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?

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?


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.