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Aging, Circumvented

XPRIZEXPRIZE Los Angeles, CaliforniaPosts: 108 admin
Outcome

A method to move the brain – with or without the entire head – of one person to the body of another, or to a non-human vessel, for over a year, while maintaining conscious thought or (in the case of cryogenics) demonstrating that consciousness can be recovered after a time.

Why the Need?

A successful brain- or head-transplant, from an old donor to the body (cloned or otherwise) of a young human being or to a non-human vessel, should solve many of the mechanisms of aging. While the technique may sound ghoulish, it may be no more horrendous than any organ transplant conducted in the present.

Stipulations for a Successful Breakthrough Solution
  • The transplant procedure should be safe for the transferred brain
  • While the procedure may rely at first on the availability of a recipient body, efforts should be made toward making it accessible – possibly by exploring the potential of non-human vessels to carry the detached consciousness.

Promising Technologies for Solutions

Head and brain transplants seem to be the most likely technological solutions for this breakthrough. While such procedures seem grotesque to many, they have the potential to keep older adults alive for a time - possibly just enough time for new medications to be developed.

Expected year for proof of concept: 2050
Expected year for mass-scaling: 2058

Comments

  • SamBlakeSamBlake Los Angeles, CaliforniaPosts: 34 mod
    edited May 14
    As we discussed at the Lab, this inevitably leads to a grand question: What is Consciousness? Any poetic souls willing to take a stab?
  • NickOttensNickOttens Barcelona, SpainPosts: 362 admin
    @bbergstein, @bjcooper, @mayaelhalal, what do you think?
  • RoeyRoey Posts: 66 mod
    @SamBlake ,
    I'm not very poetic. The consciousness is the result of metabolic processes occurring in the brain. Move the brain to another body - and you moved the consciousness as well. Voila. End of story.

    (There are some interesting issues about whether hormones, secreted by the rest of the body, can affect your personality. They almost certainly can, but still - the site of the consciousness is the brain)

    Happy to help :smile:
  • marz62marz62 Posts: 27 ✭✭
    edited May 17
    Consciousness cannot be reduced to simple cellular metabolism (whether one or many neurons) anymore than a memory can be reduced to a single Ca+2 receptor on a given dendritic spine (or several such receptors). There are collective/holistic, dynamic, emergent, and hierarchical qualities/aspects to consciousness (perhaps also a statistical quality, as in Hofstadter's 'Statistically Emergent Mentality' concept wherein consciousness emerges through a continuous 'statistical averaging' of millions of neuronal firings [action potentials, inclusive of synaptic inputs and outputs]).

    There is also a distributive quality to 'mind' (the cognate of consciousness, perhaps the modern equivalent of "soul") that produces the 'global' behaviors associated with recall and complex cognitive tasks, and also a 'default mode network' (i.e., a resting /baseline state of neuronal activity, originating in the precuneus, but capable of 'stepping up', through feedback with other brain structures, and impacting wider/whole brain regions)...and possibly also occurring with meditative states of "higher" consciousness which are non-local and appear to occur throughout the higher brain areas (cortices, etc.) as well as affecting more primitive brain structures like the Limbic system (and its component substructures).

    Is there a chemo-physiological (inclusive of metabolism) basis for consciousness? Yes, in that you are correct. But 'metabolism' is itself comprised of myriad cellular signaling pathways and anabolic/catabolic processes (many of which are controlled by inter-cellular communication, or 'cross talk', and even, by foreign organisms, it seems, in the case of our microbiome, via the adaptive immune system).

    Further, there is much whole neuron and neural network activity (e.g., slow wave ripples) and functioning (e.g., circuit amplification and reinforcement) that occurs continuously and involving multiple (multi-scale) hierarchies of inter-connected neural circuits.

    Taken as a whole (haha), these aspects of mind/consciousness illustrate the conceptual and design-structural error of attempting to reduce (and thus 'build up') consciousness -- what is yet to be even partly understood -- to a single (albeit fundamental) cellular process (or even multiple duplications of said process).

    Consciousness seems to be manifold, and, like the brain that 'gives rise' to it, is a complex, adaptive system (that is more than the sum of its parts).
  • marz62marz62 Posts: 27 ✭✭
    edited May 17
    On a lighter note, and in the context of poetics, when discussing consciousness and 'mind', I reflexively recall Ambrose Bierce's 'Devil's Dictionary' definition of MIND : 'A mysterious form of matter, secreted by the brain; its chief activity consists in the endeavor to ascertain its own nature; the futility of the attempt being due to the fact that it has nothing but itself to know itself with.'
  • NickOttensNickOttens Barcelona, SpainPosts: 362 admin
    Thank you for your comments, @marz62! Sorry it was held up in moderation for a couple of days, I think it's because you posted them in rapid succession and then the system suspects it might be spam. I've marked your account as "Verified" now, so this won't happen again.
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