Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists


Asking the unaskable question - Do we have a right not to die?

Wednesday 25 June 2008

Strategic Futurist Marcus Barber has contributed a chapter to Volume Five of the 'Death and Anti-Death' Anthology which has just been published by Ria University. With contributors including Aubrey de Grey and Kevin Kelly and edited by Dr. Charles Tandy, Volume Five in the series is dedicated to the memory of Loren Eiseley, the renowned Anthropologist, science writer and environmental advocate.

Available through Amazon the full title is 'Death And Anti-Death, Volume 5: Thirty Years After Loren Eiseley (1907-1977)' and is available in hardcover for $39.95.

Marcus Barber's chapter poses the question whether any individual has the right not to die, given the emergence of the wide assortment of technological developments available in the area of health and life extension.  Barber suggests that the challenge is whether, given the wide disparity of health outcomes across the globe, any one individual with the financial means, has the right to extend their life indefinitely given the high rates of mortality elsewhere in the world.

Barber also posits four rules for identifying whether an entity can be considered 'truly' alive.  He suggests that for an entity to be considered alive it must:

  1. Do whatever it takes to survive;
  2. Having achieved rule one, extend the 'survival boundary';
  3. When life conditions require it, ignore rule two and focus  all resources on achieving rule one;
  4. At a certain point, switch off  rule one

Although this chapter is written specifically for the Death and Anti-Death anthology, these 'rules' also pose additional issues for cognitive scientists and those involved with artificial intelligence.

Other chapters in the book consider cryogenics, the issue of anorexia and euthanasia, technology and more

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