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Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death
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Brain Repair and the Near Future of Death

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James J. Hughes

James J. Hughes

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  • 1. 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. Biopolitical Struggle <ul><li>Radical life extension not just scientific progress </li></ul><ul><li>Also requires legal and cultural evolution </li></ul><ul><li>From bioconservatism to transhumanism </li></ul><ul><li>Human-racism vs. personhood </li></ul><ul><li>Who is a citizen with a right to life?: abortion, stem cells, great ape rights, chimeras, brain death </li></ul><ul><li>Brain Repair will be central </li></ul>
  • 3. Biopolitical Values Tech must be banned Risks are manageable Sacred taboos, “the natural”, yuck factor Humanism, reason, individual liberty Human-Racism (Deep Ecology) Personhood Bioconservatism Transhumanism
  • 4. From Human-racism… <ul><li>Human-racism: Human embodiment is the basis of rights-bearing </li></ul><ul><li>Humans have souls or crypto-spiritual “human dignity” </li></ul><ul><li>Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights (UN General Assembly, 1998) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ 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.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Annas/Andrews Treaty: human enhancement should be “a crime against humanity” </li></ul>Embryonic citizens?
  • 5. …to Personhood <ul><li>Is hairlessness one of the genes necessary for citizenship? </li></ul><ul><li>Persons: “conscious beings, aware of themselves, with intents and purposes over time” </li></ul><ul><li>You can be human and not persons : fetus, PVS, braindead </li></ul><ul><li>You can be a person and not human : great apes, AI, posthumans </li></ul><ul><li>Legal personhood confers the “right to life” and personal continuity </li></ul>
  • 6. Continuity of Personal Identity <ul><li>Human-racism : identity = body </li></ul><ul><li>H+: identity = memory, personality </li></ul><ul><li>Thought Experiments </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scoop out my dead brain and keep me on life support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scoop out my dead brain and replace it with someone else’s </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scoop out my dead brain, and grow a new one </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who would I be legally? </li></ul></ul>
  • 7. Alcor’s Definition of Death <ul><li>Death: irreversible loss of the structural information which encodes memory and personality </li></ul><ul><li>Alcor Cryonics: Reaching for Tomorrow </li></ul>
  • 8. Schiavo and Religious Right <ul><li>Christian Right mobilizing </li></ul><ul><li>Abortion </li></ul><ul><li>Assisted dying </li></ul><ul><li>Stem cells </li></ul><ul><li>Schiavo, living wills, PVS </li></ul><ul><li>Artificial reproduction </li></ul><ul><li>Pope Benedict </li></ul>
  • 9. New BioConservative Alliances <ul><li>Religious Right </li></ul><ul><ul><li>CS Lewis The Abolition of Man </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Neoconservatives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fukuyama Our Posthuman Future </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Deep Ecologists, Romantic Luddites </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Aldous Huxley Brave New World </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Left-wing/Feminist Critics of Biotech </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Jeremy Rifkin Algeny </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gena Corea The Mother Machine </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Pro-Disability Extremists </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not Dead Yet </li></ul></ul>
  • 10. Trans- humanism (H+) <ul><li>18 th century rationalism and skepticism </li></ul><ul><li>Dignity and worth of humanity </li></ul><ul><li>Liberty, equality, democracy </li></ul><ul><li>Our capacity for self-realization through reason, without supernatural assistance </li></ul>Transhumanists are humanists who emphasize what we have the potential to become through reason.
  • 11. H+ = Radical Human Rights <ul><li>Liberal democracy = personhood not race, gender or species as base of citizenship </li></ul><ul><li>Citizens have right to self-ownership, self-determination: Control own bodies &amp; brains </li></ul>John Locke 1632-1704
  • 12. Secular Bioethicists Moving To H+ <ul><li>Greg Pence , author Who is a Afraid of Human Cloning? </li></ul><ul><li>Greg Stock , author of Redesigning Humans </li></ul><ul><li>Religious Right (Schiavo) and Kassites polarizing, scaring bioethicists </li></ul><ul><li>Forced to defend autonomy &amp; technology against religious thuggery and nonsense yuck factor arguments </li></ul>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. Tech Spurs Ethical Change “ Animal” personhood Humanzees Status of post-humans Genetic enhancement Status of brain damaged Brain repair Status of embryos, fetuses NICU/Artificial Womb Ethical Challenge Technology
  • 14. Recent History of Death <ul><li>1960s: respirators, organ transplantation </li></ul><ul><li>1968: Beecher paper in JAMA arguing for whole brain death definition </li></ul><ul><li>1981: President’s Commission drafts uniform model (whole brain) death law </li></ul><ul><li>Today: brain death the law in most states, most countries </li></ul>
  • 15. Unstable Compromise <ul><li>1970s and 1980s debate: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Heart death vs. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Whole brain vs. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>neocortical/personhood death </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Whole brain death a compromise because </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The whole brain dead would die in days </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Declaring the vegetative “dead” politically impossible </li></ul></ul>
  • 16. Whole Brain Death Unravels <ul><li>Diagnostic procedures inconsistent, incoherent </li></ul><ul><li>Electrical activity persists in most “brain dead” </li></ul><ul><li>Shewmon 1999: Whole brain death is “survivable” indefinitely </li></ul><ul><li>Maintaining Schiavos indefinitely untenable </li></ul>
  • 17. Just Forget “Death”? <ul><li>Fost, Youngner, et al.: forget “death” - when do we turn off respirator and take organs </li></ul><ul><li>Emanuel: choice in the dying zone between PVS and heart death: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Self/family can choose euthanasia after permanent unconsciousness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>no cremation/burial until heart death </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>after heart death treatment must stop </li></ul></ul>
  • 18. Tech challenges permanence <ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>Alcor Cryonics: Reaching for Tomorrow </li></ul>
  • 19. Emerging Brain Repair Tech <ul><li>Tech that will be applied to brain repair </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Neuro-protective drugs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Neuro-genesis drugs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Neurogenic gene therapies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stem cells and tissue engineering </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Neural stimulation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Neural prostheses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nano-neural-bots </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The accelerating convergence of all these </li></ul>
  • 20. 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. DNR, NBHD &amp; the Probably Dead <ul><li>Do not resuscitate (DNR) orders </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Potentially revivable, but allowed to remain dead in order to facilitate a dignified death </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Non-Heart Beating Donor Protocol </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Being declared dead depends not only on how unlikely it is you can be revived, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But also on people not wanting to bring you back </li></ul></ul><ul><li>PVS is probabilistic diagnosis </li></ul>
  • 22. Brain Damaged/Dead as Missing Person <ul><li>Missing persons </li></ul><ul><li>Potentially alive, but legally dead </li></ul><ul><ul><li>time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>evidence </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If they reappear </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reimbursing those wrongly declared dead preferred to leaving affairs in limbo </li></ul></ul>
  • 23. Search Parties for the Missing <ul><li>If advance directives and prognosis permit, declaration of death will wait for trial of brain repair </li></ul><ul><li>Otherwise, they will be declared dead. </li></ul><ul><li>But what if brain repair recovers 20%? 10% 1% </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For biocons, success </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>For H+ers, failure </li></ul></ul>
  • 24. Testing for Continuity <ul><li>Below threshold, different person </li></ul><ul><li>Advance directive could give body to future person </li></ul><ul><li>Advance directives and squatter’s rights </li></ul>
  • 25. Information Loss <ul><li>How much info can be lost before we, and the law, consider the reconstituted mind a new person? </li></ul><ul><li>Alcor on Information Loss </li></ul><ul><li>...even if today&apos;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. </li></ul><ul><li>Alcor Cryonics: Reaching for Tomorrow </li></ul>
  • 26. HETHR Conference <ul><li>Human Enhancement Technologies and Human Rights </li></ul><ul><li>May 26-28, 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>Stanford University Law School </li></ul><ul><li>Rights of transhuman persons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>uploads, cyborgs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Rights to transhuman technology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Life extension </li></ul></ul>
  • 27. For more information on H+ <ul><li>World Transhumanist Association transhumanism.org </li></ul><ul><li>Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies ieet.org </li></ul><ul><li>Betterhumans.com (online magazine &amp; daily news feed) </li></ul><ul><li>Me: director@ieet.org </li></ul>

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