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1 11/2/2005 Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death James J. Hughes Ph.D. Author Citizen Cyborg Executive.

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Presentation on theme: "1 11/2/2005 Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death James J. Hughes Ph.D. Author Citizen Cyborg Executive."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 11/2/2005 Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death James J. Hughes Ph.D. Author Citizen Cyborg Executive Director, World Transhumanist Association & Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Public Policy Studies, Trinity College, Hartford CT

2 2 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Biopolitical Struggle Radical life extension not just scientific progress Also requires legal and cultural evolution From bioconservatism to transhumanism Human-racism vs. personhood Who is a citizen with a right to life?: abortion, stem cells, great ape rights, chimeras, brain death Brain Repair will be central

3 3 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Biopolitical Values TranshumanismBioconservatism PersonhoodHuman-Racism (Deep Ecology) Humanism, reason, individual liberty Sacred taboos, “the natural”, yuck factor Risks are manageable Tech must be banned

4 4 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies From Human-racism… Human-racism: Human embodiment is the basis of rights-bearing Humans have souls or crypto-spiritual “human dignity” Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights (UN General Assembly, 1998) “The human genome underlies the fundamental unity of all members of the human family, as well as the recognition of their inherent dignity and diversity.” Annas/Andrews Treaty: human enhancement should be “a crime against humanity” Embryonic citizens?

5 5 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies …to Personhood Is hairlessness one of the genes necessary for citizenship? Persons: “conscious beings, aware of themselves, with intents and purposes over time” You can be human and not persons: fetus, PVS, braindead You can be a person and not human: great apes, AI, posthumans Legal personhood confers the “right to life” and personal continuity

6 6 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Continuity of Personal Identity Human-racism: identity = body H+: identity = memory, personality Thought Experiments Scoop out my dead brain and keep me on life support Scoop out my dead brain and replace it with someone else’s Scoop out my dead brain, and grow a new one Who would I be legally?

7 7 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Alcor’s Definition of Death Death: irreversible loss of the structural information which encodes memory and personality Alcor Cryonics: Reaching for Tomorrow

8 8 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Schiavo and Religious Right Christian Right mobilizing Abortion Assisted dying Stem cells Schiavo, living wills, PVS Artificial reproduction Pope Benedict

9 9 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies New BioConservative Alliances Religious Right CS Lewis The Abolition of Man Neoconservatives Fukuyama Our Posthuman Future Deep Ecologists, Romantic Luddites Aldous Huxley Brave New World Left-wing/Feminist Critics of Biotech Jeremy Rifkin Algeny Gena Corea The Mother Machine Pro-Disability Extremists Not Dead Yet

10 10 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Trans-humanism (H+) 18 th century rationalism and skepticism Dignity and worth of humanity Liberty, equality, democracy Our capacity for self-realization through reason, without supernatural assistance Transhumanists are humanists who emphasize what we have the potential to become through reason.

11 11 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies H+ = Radical Human Rights Liberal democracy = personhood not race, gender or species as base of citizenship Citizens have right to self- ownership, self- determination: Control own bodies & brains John Locke

12 12 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Secular Bioethicists Moving To H+ Greg Pence, author Who is a Afraid of Human Cloning? Greg Stock, author of Redesigning Humans Religious Right (Schiavo) and Kassites polarizing, scaring bioethicists Forced to defend autonomy & technology against religious thuggery and nonsense yuck factor arguments Arthur Caplan: “…enhancing intelligence or changing personality or modifying our memory, maybe that should be available to everyone as a guarantee of equal opportunity.”

13 13 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Tech Spurs Ethical Change TechnologyEthical Challenge NICU/Artificial WombStatus of embryos, fetuses Brain repair Status of brain damaged Humanzees“Animal” personhood Genetic enhancementStatus of post-humans

14 14 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Recent History of Death 1960s: respirators, organ transplantation 1968: Beecher paper in JAMA arguing for whole brain death definition 1981: President’s Commission drafts uniform model (whole brain) death law Today: brain death the law in most states, most countries

15 15 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Unstable Compromise 1970s and 1980s debate: Heart death vs. Whole brain vs. neocortical/personhood death Whole brain death a compromise because The whole brain dead would die in days Declaring the vegetative “dead” politically impossible

16 16 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Whole Brain Death Unravels Diagnostic procedures inconsistent, incoherent Electrical activity persists in most “brain dead” Shewmon 1999: Whole brain death is “survivable” indefinitely Maintaining Schiavos indefinitely untenable

17 17 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Just Forget “Death”? Fost, Youngner, et al.: forget “death” - when do we turn off respirator and take organs Emanuel: choice in the dying zone between PVS and heart death: Self/family can choose euthanasia after permanent unconsciousness no cremation/burial until heart death after heart death treatment must stop

18 18 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Tech challenges permanence The pronouncement of death is thus an arbitrary (if admittedly very practical) medical and legal construct, which amounts to a statement saying in effect: ‘Your affliction has exceeded our current level of medical skill and we are currently powerless to restore you to function; therefore we give up. Alcor Cryonics: Reaching for Tomorrow

19 19 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Emerging Brain Repair Tech Tech that will be applied to brain repair Neuro-protective drugs Neuro-genesis drugs Neurogenic gene therapies Stem cells and tissue engineering Neural stimulation Neural prostheses Nano-neural-bots The accelerating convergence of all these

20 20 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies NBIC: Nanowiring the Brain “Neuro-vascular central nervous recording/stimulating system: Using nanotechnology probes,” Rodolfo R. Llinás, Kerry D. Walton, Masayuki Nakao, et al.

21 21 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies DNR, NBHD & the Probably Dead Do not resuscitate (DNR) orders Potentially revivable, but allowed to remain dead in order to facilitate a dignified death Non-Heart Beating Donor Protocol Being declared dead depends not only on how unlikely it is you can be revived, But also on people not wanting to bring you back PVS is probabilistic diagnosis

22 22 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Brain Damaged/Dead as Missing Person Missing persons Potentially alive, but legally dead time evidence If they reappear Reimbursing those wrongly declared dead preferred to leaving affairs in limbo

23 23 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Search Parties for the Missing If advance directives and prognosis permit, declaration of death will wait for trial of brain repair Otherwise, they will be declared dead. But what if brain repair recovers 20%? 10% 1% For biocons, success For H+ers, failure

24 24 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Testing for Continuity Below threshold, different person Advance directive could give body to future person Advance directives and squatter’s rights

25 25 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Information Loss How much info can be lost before we, and the law, consider the reconstituted mind a new person? Alcor on Information Loss...even if today's patients do make it there, it is possible (and with sub-optimal suspension even likely) that they will wake with varying degrees of amnesia. In particularly bad cases, cell and tissue repair technology might only result in revival of a biological twin of the suspended patient. Alcor Cryonics: Reaching for Tomorrow

26 26 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies HETHR Conference Human Enhancement Technologies and Human Rights May 26-28, 2006 Stanford University Law School Rights of transhuman persons uploads, cyborgs Rights to transhuman technology Life extension

27 27 11/4/2005Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies For more information on H+ World Transhumanist Association transhumanism.org Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies ieet.org Betterhumans.com (online magazine & daily news feed) Me:


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