Essays on Infinite Lifespans
in a variety of ways and then observed the response of their
brains, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Although
the neural pathways to their limbs had been inactive for many
years, the pattern of their brain activity when attempting to
move their limbs was very close to that observed in non-dis-
We will, therefore, be able to place sensors in the brain
of a paralyzed person (e.g., Christopher Reeve) that will be
programmed to recognize the brain patterns associated with
intended movements and then stimulate the appropriate
sequence of muscle movements. For those patients whose
muscles no longer function, there are already designs for
nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) that can expand
and contract to replace damaged muscles and that can be acti-
vated by either real or artificial nerves.
WE ARE BECOMING CYBORGS
We are rapidly growing more intimate with our technol-
ogy. Computers started out as large remote machines in
air-conditioned rooms tended by white-coated technicians.
Subsequently they moved onto our desks, then under our
arms, and now in our pockets. Soon, well routinely put them
inside our bodies and brains. Ultimately we will become more
nonbiological than biological.
The compelling benefits in overcoming profound diseases
and disabilities will keep these technologies on a rapid course,
but medical applications represent only the early adoption
phase. As the technologies become established, there will be no
barriers to using them for the expansion of human potential.
In my view, expanding our potential is precisely the primary
distinction of our species.