19 thoughts on “A Problematic Form Of Life Extension”

  1. Hey! Surgeons!
    Leave that brain alone!
    bump bahbump, da da, bump bahbump…
    All in all,
    you’re just another piece of meat,
    in a skull wall
    – Apologies to Roger Waters

  2. Ugh. Makes me cringe like Dr. McCoy whenever he is thinking about or confronting 20th century “surgical” techniques.

    I have a great deal of doubt about whether the ‘personality’ emerging from such butchery will bear any resemblance to (or continuity with) the original.

    If any emerges at all from this.

        1. OK, it took me awhile, but Chekov in seeking a neutrino source to restore their dilithium crystals by asking at a Navy base for the location of “nuclear wessels” gets a brain-case bleed from being knocked from a height on to the pavement, ends up in a hospital where the Star Trek gang smuggles Dr. McCoy to treat Chekov, Dr McCoy mutters at the blood-letting and leaches level of barbarity of kidney dialsis, the smart-alec doctor in the elevator demands to know from a time-travelled doc from the 23 century, “What would you do?”, and the once small alec doc goes running down the hall with his students in tow after the woman exclaiming, “This doctor gave me a pill and I grew a new kidney.”

          No, Spock’s Brain is where McCoy is the barbarian doctor trying to reconnect Spock’s brain into his body after the effects of the Teacher helmet are wearing off, and Kirk, of course, saves the day by instructing the panicked McCoy, “Connect his vocal cords and let Spock help you.”

          Spock’s Brain is more like what these Life Extension people want to go with a brain-on-lab-grown-new-body transplant that has Rand creeped out.

  3. It’s a classic ship of Theseus problem. The original version goes that when Theseus defeated the Minotaur and returned to Athens, the Athenians celebrated the occasion by once a year sailing the ship to Delos. They did so for several centuries. Someone (Wikipedia claims this was first written down by Plutarch) noted that each time it sailed something would need to be fixed or replaced. They posed the question: if every part of the ship of Theseus is replaced over those centuries, is it the same ship?

    Another version is the grandfather’s ax paradox. It’s usually presented as a narrative by a man who asserts that his ax is his grandfather’s ax even though his father replaced the handle and he replaced the ax head – presumably faithful to the original dimensions and materials of the ax. Sure, it’ll devalue the ax for purposes of antique collecting or historical knowledge, but otherwise it just has more history.

    My take is for most purposes, the answer would be yes to both of these and that this similarly applies to the human brain. Ships, axes, and human brains naturally change over time – small scale replacement of parts and other changes is routine.

    The human brain in particular dramatically changes from birth, yet we don’t treat the baby or child as different beings from the resulting adult.

    Sure, if you’re an antique brain collector who values unmodified brains more highly, then the above process is undesirable and changes things materially for you.

    But otherwise, if brain material is replaced at a slow enough rate that it doesn’t change personality or lose memories more rapidly than old age does, then there’s no reason to consider the final completely new brain as a different person.

  4. The way to fix this is with the Star Trek transporter. You store a copy of your 25 y/o self in the Heisenberg buffers and then as you age eventually it’s time to transmute back to your 25 y/o self so as an 80 y/o you step into the transporter at it arranges to replace everything except your brain with the 25 y/o copy.

    This will work right up until your brain ages out to the point where if fails because of stroke. We don’t know exactly how long a brain can last, assuming it doesn’t fail because of Alzheimer’s etc.

    Not sure if 25 y/o body chemistry might be able to rejuvenate an 80 y/o brain either. The Twilight Zone had an episode where it didn’t think it was a problem.

  5. The Amazon series “Upload” is a RomCom take
    on the upload just before dying idea. The Upload part works great and there is a whole Afterlife industry.
    The download part is still in beta……

  6. How could this work without also transplanting the stomach?


    “Ummmm…no thanks.”

    What makes you think you will get a choice?

    1. “How could this work without also transplanting the stomach?”

      Also need to take into consideration that far too many people seem to think with body parts located below the waist.

  7. Whatever happened with the wheelchair bound Russian guy who had volunteered for the first complete head transplant a few years back? Obviously it never happened…. or did it? Is he now working in the Biden administration?

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