TED Conversations

TED Book Chat

This conversation is closed.

Discussing "The Science of Radical Life Extension" with TED Books author David Ewing Duncan

Continuing with our series of TED Book Chats.... How long do you want to live, and why?

For the next two weeks, we'll be discussing David Ewing Duncan's new eBook, "When I'm 164", on the science of radical life extension. Duncan surveys the increasingly legitimate science — from genetics and regeneration to machine solutions — and considers the pluses and minuses of living to age 164, or beyond. We'll look at everything from the impact of extended life on cities, services, and the cost of living as well as what happens to love, curiosity, and general health.

The book is available for Kindle, Nook, and iOS devices (which have a great new custom TED Books app):

Kindle copy: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008XB16ME/
iOS app: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ted-books/id511071050?mt=8

The New York Times also published an excerpt this week, you can read it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/sunday-review/how-long-do-you-want-to-live.html

Finally, author David Ewing Duncan will be joining us for a live Q&A at 4pm EDT on September 11th!

Looking forward to our discussion!


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Sep 11 2012: Hi David, thanks for your reply. I'm curious though. At one point I, like you, was unnerved by the idea of having my consciousness only existing in a machine or, even existing simultaneously in a machine and in my corporeal form. But at some point I thought about it and realized that it didn't bother me anymore. I'm not sure exactly when that was, but I think it corresponded to reading the book of short stories: "Godlike Machines" while cramped in a boat for two days floating down the Mekong River.

    So my question to you is, what exactly (or not exactly) do you think bothers you most about having your consciousness in a machine?
    • thumb
      Sep 11 2012: First, on a practical level, I have covered neuroscience as a reporter for years, and it's hard to find many mainstream or even edgy neuroscientists that believe this will happen anytime soon, if ever. We could be taling centuries. John Donoghue of Brown, who is on the leading edge of using brain implants to convert thought into operating machines, has told me that even if scientists are able to map every detail of every synapse in the brain, they may never duplicate an individual's consciousness. But even if it works, I have three problems. One is that I like the sensations of being corporeal (I might get over this, but I doubt it); the second is that unless my machine-home can defend my mind, I'm vulnerable to all sorts of natural and "real" disasters that might harm me; the third is that I don't fully trust a machine capable of hosting my mind to allow me to be me - there is a sort of Matrix/Terminator scenario that even Ray Kurzweil (a huge advocate of downloading one's mind) confesses he thinks is a serious worry.
      • thumb
        Sep 11 2012: Thank you for your thoughts David!

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.