Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Happy New Year

I would like to wish my fellow Red-Sea pedestrians a happy and healthy New Year.

Speaking of healthy …

There are transhumanists trying to recruit Catholics. I think it might make at least as much sense to recruit Orthodox Jews or religious people in general.

Essential Disclaimer: I'm not very Orthodox but I've noticed Orthodox Jews are more likely to make sense on medicine than non-Orthodox Jews. For example, non-Orthodox Jews are likely to assume that Jewish tradition is obsolete:

In classical Jewish thought, every effort must be made to continue to sustain life, regardless of cost. However, this view was constructed when medical technology was very different. Two-thousand years ago we didn't have the option to add a few painful months of life to someone at the cost of millions of dollars. We do now. This different situation may require serious reexamining of this sort of belief.
In view of the possible Methuselarity, the “modern” view might be more obsolete than the traditional view.


Blogger Joshua said...

There's a distinction between assuming a belief is obsolete and saying that a belief "may require serious reexamining." If I considered the belief system to be obsolete I wouldn't have mentioned it at all.

I do agree that non-Orthodox bloggers will in general be more likely to assume or conclude that a given tradition is obsolete. However, there's no surprise there: If they thought that the vast majority of halachic details and Jewish traditions were all completely valid, they'd be Orthodox. The only exception to that is the segment of Conservativism that is very close to Modern Orthodoxy and there the main issues that actually divide them seem to either issues of sex/gender and halacha or overarching philosophical differences but not serious differences in practice. I've certainly met multiple people who self-identify as MO who keep less halacha than some people who identify as Conservative.

(I am incidentally amused by a general trend I've noticed that frum bloggers seem to assume I'm not frum and non-frum people often seem to think I'm frum. There may be some strange signaling mechanisms going on here).

Your point about transhumanism and cryonics is more interesting. I suspect there's a distinction here between Jewish and Christian attitudes. The ideas contained in transhumanism and cryonics are much more easily compatible with classical Jewish mores than those of Christianity. If cryonics does ever become really practical it will raise interesting halachic issues given the standard halachic definitions of death in terms of either heart or lung function.

However, I doubt these issues will come up in that much detail for the foreseeable future. Indeed, if I had to compare Aubre de Grey's sort of Methuselarity to a Kurzweil style Singularity I'd say the most noteworthy similarities are a) the idea is really cool and appealing and b) looks extremely unlikely for the foreseeable future.

2:05 PM  

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