Bioethics of Biostasis


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The rights and wrongs of technological immortality

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Bioethics of Biostasis

  1. 1. The Bioethics of Biostasis Martine Rothblatt Yale University Institution for Social and Policy Studies Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics
  2. 2. Definition of Terms <ul><li>Transbeman </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A being desirous of human rights but not conventionally considered so eligible, as well as other beings who self-identify with such beings </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Biostasis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A virtually complete and intentionally reversible arrest of biological processes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Alive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Capable under appropriate conditions of autonomous activities </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Legal Definition of Death <ul><li>Originally, in Common Law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ (1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions…” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>After Cardio-Pulmonary Support & Organ Transplantation Created a Reason for Alternative Definition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ or, (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Uniform Determination of Death Act, 1980-1981 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, ABA & AMA; State laws vary slightly </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Questions Raised by 21st Century Technology <ul><li>If cryonic biostasis is reversible , then aren’t cryonauts still alive? </li></ul><ul><li>If brain functions are transplanted to a computer before brain death, then aren’t the transplantees still alive? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Response from Current Juridico-Medical Establishment <ul><li>Definition of Death: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Subject to “accepted medical standards” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Must be “construed to effect its general purpose.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cryonic Revival & Cyber-Consciousness are Now Impossible </li></ul><ul><li>Society Needs Certainty of Death </li></ul>
  6. 6. But it Took Only 50 Years to Go From This Also no skyscrapers, a/c, galaxies or nukes in 1900…
  7. 7. To this!
  8. 8. And just 30 more years to
  9. 9. And rapid advancement is not just in aeronautics <ul><li>1967 -- 1st Heart Transplant </li></ul><ul><li>2006 -- 75,000th Heart Transplant ( ten per day ) </li></ul><ul><li>1984 -- Vitrification proposed </li></ul><ul><li>2005 -- Kidney vitrification reversed </li></ul><ul><li>2001 -- 1st Human Vitrification </li></ul><ul><li>20?? -- Vitrification Revivals </li></ul>1980 2005 25 yrs 41 yrs 19 yrs
  10. 10. And Advancement is Exponential, Not Linear
  11. 11. Even Today Some Brain Functions Can Be Computerized <ul><li>Memory, pattern recognition, reasoning </li></ul><ul><li>Our uniqueness as people can be digitally stored and presented: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mannerisms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recollections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Feelings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beliefs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Attitudes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Values </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. We Call These Digital Copies of Key Brain Functions “Bemes” <ul><li>Bemes are the smallest units of our beingness </li></ul><ul><li>Beingness is our essential nature or character </li></ul><ul><li>By holding our bemes, sites like perform a brain function </li></ul><ul><li>A “bemenaut” has thus not ceased “ all of the functions of the entire brain” -- they are alive </li></ul>
  13. 13. Back to the Medico-Legal Problems <ul><li>Bemes are not now “accepted medical standards” </li></ul><ul><li>The purpose of the rules is to get you dead, definitely dead </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can’t use the rules to defeat their purpose </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Solutions to Legal Death <ul><li>Get Psychiatry to Accept Reality of Bemes As a Brain Function </li></ul><ul><li>Merge Bemes with Mindware to Evidence Cyber-Consciousness </li></ul><ul><li>Show Cryonic Revival </li></ul><ul><li>Persuade Society that Death is Unnecessary </li></ul>
  15. 15. Motivations to Get Society to Accept Cyber-Life <ul><li>Avoid bad suffering without euthanasia </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ending body doesn’t end a person’s life </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Gratitude to our those who risk lives (eg cops) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Shouldn’t have to lose body and life </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Keep benefiting from key contributors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Comedians, Writers, Elvis, Heroes in virtuality </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Society’s Deathism Is Unnecessary <ul><li>World Population Grew from 1 Billion to 6 Billion in 100 yrs </li></ul><ul><li>Average Lifespan Doubling ≈40 > ≈80 </li></ul><ul><li>O’Neill Showed the Solar System Could Support >500x Earth’s Population </li></ul>
  17. 17. Outline of Legal Petition for Biostasis Life <ul><li>IA. Bemes stored ex vivo , hence all functions of the brain (e.g. memory) not ceased </li></ul><ul><li>IB. Medical science agrees that memory is function of brain and computers </li></ul><ul><li>IIA. Consciousness retrievable hence no irreversible loss of that brain function either </li></ul><ul><li>IIB.Medical science agrees consciousness emerges from thought & not intrinsic to tissue </li></ul><ul><li>III. Not contrary to Act’s purposes because organ-harvest neutral </li></ul><ul><li>IV. Find plaintiff with no 3rd parties aggrieved by lack of death certificate, or argue Plaintiff’s interests outweigh others </li></ul>
  18. 18. How About Real Death? <ul><li>Real death occurs when there is an irreversible loss of consciousness </li></ul><ul><li>But consciousness is subjective, and “ what is irreversible” nearly so </li></ul><ul><li>So real death occurs when there is belief that consciousness is forever gone </li></ul>
  19. 19. Socrates: It is only my body that is dying, not my self
  20. 20. Legal Death is Not Real Death <ul><li>Has the information constituting someone been irreversibly lost? </li></ul><ul><li>Legal death reflects society’s consensus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Yes , if heart, lungs & whole brain flatline </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Real death reflects emerging realities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No , if their brain is quickly cryonicized or its material content is uploaded as bemes </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. People Will Disagree <ul><li>Transbemans in biostasis are alive because some people (themselves at least) are sure consciousness will return to them </li></ul><ul><li>Transbemans in biostasis are dead to non-believers </li></ul>
  22. 22. One Can Be Dead And Alive <ul><li>Mortalists: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cryonics is irreversible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Even if reversed, it is a new being born </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mind-transfer is not that </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> You are dead </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Immortalists: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cryonics is reversible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When reversed, same being patterns result </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mind-transfers lead to cyber-consciousness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> I am alive </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Final Analysis <ul><li>Death is irreversible end to beingness </li></ul><ul><li>No objective answer (can’t measure) to whether or not beingness has forever ended </li></ul><ul><li>Death is therefore a subjective state, the objective indicia of which can be generally agreed-upon in law and culture </li></ul><ul><li>Transbemans in biostasis are alive because (1) they intend to reverse their biostasis, (2) they believe their biostasis reflects their beingness, and (3) their beliefs are reasonable to at least some in their reality. </li></ul>
  24. 24. How Might We Accommodate Treating Death as Subjective? <ul><li>Individuals choose by contract to “opt out” of legal death via certified biostasis </li></ul><ul><li>National Opt-Out Registry certifies biostases programs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cryonics Firms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beme Storage Firms </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Requirements for Certification <ul><li>Perpetual (like Alcor’s Patient Trust) Funding Dedicated to Reversibility </li></ul><ul><li>Research Program Focused on Revival </li></ul><ul><li>Compliance with “Good Biostasis Practices” </li></ul>National Death Opt-Out via Biostasis Registry “ NDOBR” ( endober )
  26. 26. Consequences of Opting Out of Death Via NDOBR <ul><li>Death Certificate Replaced with Biostasis Certificate </li></ul><ul><li>No Dissolution of Marriage by Death or Loss of Property, Legal or Citizenship Rights </li></ul><ul><li>Decisions for Biostasee Made by Trustee </li></ul><ul><li>Legally the same as if biostasee were in coma </li></ul>
  27. 27. Conclusions <ul><li>Transbemans in biostasis are alive because </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They reasonably intend their status to be reversible and their identity to be constant </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Legal death is not the same thing as real death </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The law will change to recognize them as living once </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Plaintiffs succeed in showing biostasis ≠death, or </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NDOBR is legislated or accepted by courts, or </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reversible biostasis with seemingly constant identity is shown & Social benefits of immortalism are shown to outweigh social interests in death </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. A National Opt-Out Registry Is Something We Can Do Now <ul><li>Respects the great Western value of individual choice </li></ul><ul><li>Provides an alternative to a death certificate </li></ul><ul><li>Commences regularization of biostasis firms </li></ul>