By By Atty. Romulo P. Atencia
Can science make us immortal?
posted 24-Sep-2015  ·  
4,914 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

Aging is a metabolic process. Various species appear to be “programmed” for death within a given age range. Fleas, for example, live for about five years. Dogs live for an average of around fifteen years. Humans, on the other hand, can live upwards of seventy, eighty, ninety, or even a hundred years. Fleas never reach such an age; their genetic package will not allow it.  However, the Bible states that prior to the Flood, people typically lived for hundreds of years, with the average age of the antediluvian patriarchs reaching almost a thousand years. Adam, for example, lived 930 years and Methuselah lived 969 years. Carl Wieland commented on this matter in the Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal. He stated that, barring accidental death, one-celled organisms are potentially “immortal.” A bacterial cell reproduces by dividing into two where there was one, those two then become four, and so on. Why then do multi-celled organisms die? Individual human cells in tissue culture divide some fifty times and then stop—some sort of pre-programmed genetic limit is reached. Human tumor cells, on the other hand, can be propagated indefinitely by division—the DNA mechanisms for pre-programmed cessation of division appears to be lacking or damaged in such cancer cells. In multi-cellular organisms, once damaged and worn cells can no longer replace themselves, death is only a matter of time as the function of whole organ systems deteriorates. So even without accidents or disease there is a programmed “upper limit” on our age, which appears to be 120 years or so. Accordingly, our ancestors simply possessed genes for greater longevity which caused this “genetic limit” to human ages to be set at a higher level in the past. Suggestive evidence in support of this is the fact that in some other organisms (for example, fruit flies), it has been shown that changes in average life spans can be bred into or out of populations.…

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Ray Kurzweil, a world-renowned scientist whose fans include Bill Gates and Bill Clinton, has been reported as claiming that humans may soon be able to replace all failing organs with artificial ones on account of technological progress now growing at an exponential rate. "Computer technology and our understanding of genes — our body’s software programs — are accelerating at an incredible rate," he writes. His theory of the Law of Accelerating Returns, suggests there will be another "billion-fold" increase in technology over the next quarter century. Indeed, in the last half of the twentieth century, medical science came up with some pretty astonishing ways to replace human parts that were starting to wear out. Though the idea is commonplace now, the invention of the artificial pacemaker in the ’50s must have seemed like science fiction come to life at the time; today’s innovations routinely restore a modicum of hearing to the deaf, sight to the vision-impaired, and if a pacemaker won’t cut it, we can just replace that faulty heart like the water pump in our old car. These technologies that were in their infancy just a few decades ago are now so well-established as to seem downright mundane. The medical tech that is in its infancy today likewise seems like science fiction—and if history has taught us anything, it’s that this means we’ll probably see a lot of it in use very soon (if it isn’t already). And while there are certainly applications for many of these to replace those worn-out parts, many others are intended specifically to improve upon perfectly good parts in unprecedented ways.

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In this regard, nanotechnology is coming along at a lightning pace and its medical applications hold the promise of nothing less than the eradication of all human diseases and maladies—up to and including death. Current nano medicine applications involve new and highly accurate ways to deliver drugs to specific locations in the body, along with other treatment methods involving tiny particles—tiny on a molecular level—dispersed into the body. For example, an experimental lung cancer treatment uses nano particles that are inhaled by aerosol, settling in diseased areas of the lungs; using an external magnet, the particles are then superheated, killing the diseased cells. The body’s own response eliminates the dead cells and the nano particles. This method has been used successfully in mice, and while it will not yet kill 100% of the diseased cells in an affected area, it’s close—and the tech is in its infancy. Speculative uses of this technology involve the use of nano bots—microscopic, self-replicating machines that can be programmed to target cells for destruction, drug therapy or rebuilding. Of course, this could theoretically apply not only to diseased cells but damaged ones—perhaps allowing for much speedier recovery from injury and even the reversal of aging. The logical progression here ends with a remarkably durable, age-proof human body.

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As we’re able to replace more and more of our body parts with versions that have been engineered, grown in a lab or both, it stands to reason that we’ll one day reach an endpoint — a point at which every part of the human body is able to be replicated, including the brain. Right now, a collaborative effort between 15 research institutions is underway trying to create hardware which emulates different sections of the human brain — their first prototype being an 8 inch wafer containing 51 million artificial synapses. The “software” is being replicated too —the Swiss “Blue Brain Project” is currently using a supercomputer to reverse-engineer the brain’s processing functions, with many elements of the activity of a rat brain having been successfully simulated. The leader of this project, Henry Markram, stated to the BBC that they will build an artificial brain within ten years. Too, our muscles, blood, organs—artificial versions of all are in various stages of development, and at some point the prospect of assembling a fully functional artificial human body will be within sight.

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CONCLUDING THOUGHTS: Immortality has always been thought of as belonging only to the gods. This now appears to be within grasp as soon as our “pre-programmed genetic limit” is finally broken. And even if our physical body has to die sometime, it is already within the realm of the possible to fabricate the entire human body, and to literally upload the contents of our consciousness into its digital processing system. We can simply replace our body with one grown in a lab with our consciousness uploaded to its “brain”.  It may be argued that brain functions cannot be reduced to simple computation — that they are not “computable” and that consciousness itself poses a problem that science will never be able to solve. But if indeed we are ever able to inject our very minds into the digital realm, the obvious implication is that our consciousness need never terminate, even if its host or “body” is no longer the one we were born with. 

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