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Thread: All about repairing or replacing the human body

  1. #1
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    All about repairing or replacing the human body

    I posted previous threads about the topic, but they are lost in oblivion now.
    Most disabilities are about certain malfunctions of the human body due to aging or diseases, and they usually result in considerable reduction of quality of life; for
    so many years, most people live by them, die for them or die because of them. As impressive are the stories of people overcoming their disabilities and become successes, they result in
    massive wastes of energy and efforts (that could be spent elsewhere more productively.)
    The most radical approach would be replacing the whole human body with a mechanical counterpart (in which the consciousness is transferred to the machine as well.)
    A little less radical, but still offensive for most people, is to transfer the human brain into a mechanical body (many fictional works have discussed this as well.)
    The existing technology already places mechanical parts on patients so they can live normally; these include pacemakers, prosthesis of different types, cochlear implants,
    etc. These are already widely acceptable.
    Biological repairs haven't caught up yet; not to say the difficult tasks of regrowing lost or missing body parts, we found it difficult to regrow hearing cells the way birds do.
    (Or neurological repairs.)
    In your opinions, which is more likely if we want to eliminate all disabilities? Both full mechanical bodies and full biological repairs are exceptionally challenging, but we can
    change the fate of the humankind quite completely if we can do these.

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    I am of the opinion that stem cell regeneration of damaged or diseased organs and body parts is the way to go instead of mechanical replacements. There has been progress in making new bladders and trachea and it will not be long before new organs can be built like lungs, pancreas, heart, intestines. I also think there will be a market for replacement lenses for the eyes as they get harder and less pliable with age. We just need to support more research into this method of organ regeneration.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inclusa View Post
    In your opinions, which is more likely if we want to eliminate all disabilities? Both full mechanical bodies and full biological repairs are exceptionally challenging, but we can
    change the fate of the humankind quite completely if we can do these.
    I don't think it's really an or question, but more of and. I think that as a long-term solution, biological repairs is really the best way to go, but it can take time and can be costly, so mechanical solutions may be very good in many cases. Just as a really simple example, replacing teeth by using stem cells is seen as a very promising medical area, so if a person loses a tooth, you can replace it with a newly grown one. But now suppose that a kid just has a small cavity that can be fixed by drilling a little bit and putting in a small filling. Would that be preferable, or should the whole tooth be removed and replaced by a newly grown one? Also, it takes time to grow a new part, so if a person has heart failure, it would probably be necessary to put in an artificial heart while waiting for the new one to be grown. Of course, we could have a bank full of organ parts for each person, but that would be very expensive to maintain, and using mechanical parts as a stopgap measure seems more practical to me.

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    A fully mechanical body would require copying an existing human mind into a machine. Multiple problems here: it's quite certain to be destructive, there's no going back. The human brain was not designed to be copied or simulated, it's a chaotic mess of hundreds of trillions of synapses, hundreds of billions of neurons, weird side effects and chemical regulatory and signaling pathways and who knows what other sorts of chemically and physically stored state. Simulating a brain on a conventional computer would be horrifyingly inefficient and probably limited by the speed of light to less than real-time. The only efficient way to do the job would be to duplicate the structure and functionality in some kind of self-modifying hardware, which itself will be nearly as hard to copy. If you can do that, it's probably far easier to fix the original brain.

    We're getting close to the point of making enormous leaps in the functionality of prosthetics by directly interfacing them to our nervous system, but even with those advances I don't see them being preferable to the natural limbs they replace unless the original is severely damaged. Prosthetics that extend the body's natural capabilities are possible, but don't necessarily require replacement of a natural body part. However, one possible target for actual upgrades might be the eyes, where some relatively simple modifications might not only improve quality of life (few people have eyes that are as good as they can be) but make deterioration or loss of vision due to aging processes, injury, infection, etc less likely.

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    All I know is that I could use some nice like new eye lenses to get rid of my presbyopia. and a new spine as my original one is curved too much. But there is only so much that a person of my poor means can get from the Veterans Administration hospital system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens
    I don't think it's really an or question, but more of and. I think that as a long-term solution, biological repairs is really the best way to go, but it can take time and can be costly, so mechanical solutions may be very good in many cases. Just as a really simple example, replacing teeth by using stem cells is seen as a very promising medical area, so if a person loses a tooth, you can replace it with a newly grown one. But now suppose that a kid just has a small cavity that can be fixed by drilling a little bit and putting in a small filling. Would that be preferable, or should the whole tooth be removed and replaced by a newly grown one? Also, it takes time to grow a new part, so if a person has heart failure, it would probably be necessary to put in an artificial heart while waiting for the new one to be grown. Of course, we could have a bank full of organ parts for each person, but that would be very expensive to maintain, and using mechanical parts as a stopgap measure seems more practical to me.
    Keeping an organ bank is at exceptionally expensive at the very least, and we do not know if the organs work at all. Mechanical parts for many cases do seem preferable at many points.

    Quote Originally Posted by cjameshuff
    A fully mechanical body would require copying an existing human mind into a machine. Multiple problems here: it's quite certain to be destructive, there's no going back. The human brain was not designed to be copied or simulated, it's a chaotic mess of hundreds of trillions of synapses, hundreds of billions of neurons, weird side effects and chemical regulatory and signaling pathways and who knows what other sorts of chemically and physically stored state. Simulating a brain on a conventional computer would be horrifyingly inefficient and probably limited by the speed of light to less than real-time. The only efficient way to do the job would be to duplicate the structure and functionality in some kind of self-modifying hardware, which itself will be nearly as hard to copy. If you can do that, it's probably far easier to fix the original brain.

    We're getting close to the point of making enormous leaps in the functionality of prosthetics by directly interfacing them to our nervous system, but even with those advances I don't see them being preferable to the natural limbs they replace unless the original is severely damaged. Prosthetics that extend the body's natural capabilities are possible, but don't necessarily require replacement of a natural body part. However, one possible target for actual upgrades might be the eyes, where some relatively simple modifications might not only improve quality of life (few people have eyes that are as good as they can be) but make deterioration or loss of vision due to aging processes, injury, infection, etc less likely.
    Sight and hearing are two of the most senses, and sight is especially important for independent life. Yep, a biological brain works way different from a computer, so brain repair may come before way before a mechanical "brain".
    As far as prosthetics are concerned, one important thing is that they cannot fit on permanently (which is an unfortunate fact, but probably we can make improvements on these sooner or later, too) like the biological counterpart.

  7. 2013-Feb-25, 05:42 AM
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    Sock likes to talk, keeps coming back

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    If you talk to the people who have had mechanical replacement parts (heart valves, joint replacements, etc)
    I think you'd have a different view about mechanicals being better. They wear out and have to be replaced.
    We've been trying for 50 years to make mechanical hearts and cannot make one that will stand up to the wear.

    Repeated surgeries for replacing replacements, rejection and infection from foreign parts also has dangers.

    Personally, I think that cloning replacements and 3D printing (they are doing biological printing now) will
    solve the problems better than mechanicals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Multiverse View Post
    Brain cells are born and die.
    Neurons in the CNS only rarely die, and new ones are only created in some limited areas. At death, you have largely the same set of brain cells you started out with, minus losses due to age and accumulated damage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JustAFriend
    If you talk to the people who have had mechanical replacement parts (heart valves, joint replacements, etc)
    I think you'd have a different view about mechanicals being better. They wear out and have to be replaced.
    We've been trying for 50 years to make mechanical hearts and cannot make one that will stand up to the wear.

    Repeated surgeries for replacing replacements, rejection and infection from foreign parts also has dangers.

    Personally, I think that cloning replacements and 3D printing (they are doing biological printing now) will
    solve the problems better than mechanicals.
    So, machines haven't won over biology for the moment; nonetheless, both approaches should be developed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inclusa View Post
    So, machines haven't won over biology for the moment;
    Was it a contest?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by JustAFriend View Post
    We've been trying for 50 years to make mechanical hearts and cannot make one that will stand up to the wear.
    This isn't true anymore. The problem was we tried to copy a natural heart in artificial materials, which is rather stupid if you stop to think about it. I forget the name of the design at the moment, but theoretically it can't wear out because it has no wearing components: brushless electric motor driving a turbine supported on fluid bearings. It's either in late stage medical trials or in use--I can't stay on top of everything. No pulse--you could freak people out with that.
    Last edited by SkepticJ; 2013-Feb-26 at 06:12 PM.

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    Ah, here it is, with tons of human-interest padding: http://www.popsci.com/science/articl...heart?page=all

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    This heart sounds fairly exciting; the lesson is that evolution doesn't necessarily give the best results.
    (Just found these a while ago:

    Arggh! there goes a...snake a snake!
    15 Jun 2011 8:29 AM
    If you have no pulse, it means that your blood pressure is constant (and has no systolic/diastolic pressure differential). This means that instead of having a BP of 120/80, you might have just a constant pressure of 100. I've always wondered what the implications of this are. I mean, your body has adapted itself to fluctuations in pressure. I wonder if over time, there are health implications with having just a constant pressure.
    aec007 @Arggh! there goes a...snake a snake!
    You have a very good point there!.

    In fact, I recently saw videos or regenerative medicine and growing of human parts, etc...were the celular matrix is populated with cells and essentially given a "pulse" (pressure oscilations) to mimic the body's pulse so the cells can grow "correctly" to form the organ.
    Winston the Pug @aec007
    I know we have valves in our leg vessels that keep blood from pooling between beats. I assume those would fade and be reabsorbed after enough time. Very interesting!

    Also, didn't Dick Cheney have something like this for a while? I remember hearing that he had no heartbeat after a procedure.
    Last edited by Inclusa; 2013-Mar-04 at 04:33 AM. Reason: Want to add something

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    People alive without heartbeat has been a cliche for fantasy or science fictions for a while.
    The topic is to fully cure someone with severe physical and mental damages or degeneration; since the brain doesn't only involve cells, it involves wiring as well; this aspect renders curing mental disability at least extremely difficult, if not impossible.
    Other organs are relatively straight forward as long as we can regenerate them. Living with a single kidney is bearable, but it still results in fairly substantial reduction of quality of life, no matter how someone lost/donated that kidney.
    As far as regenerative medicine (or aging fighting technology) is concerned, quality of life is the primary concern.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inclusa View Post
    Living with a single kidney is bearable, but it still results in fairly substantial reduction of quality of life, no matter how someone lost/donated that kidney.
    No it doesn't.

    The person does need to be watched more closely, but the health effects and longevity are not considerably affected in most cases.
    National Kidney Foundation - Living with one kidney

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    I think we'll all become cyborgs over time. However, I think it will be invisible. Some bones and joints might be replaced entirely if the mechanical parts are superior, including the eyes as has been mentioned. What we can regenerate, we will. Prosthetics are will be temporary and new bone or an artificial bone and new skin and muscle might be grown to replace the lost limb. However, I think the more invisible cyborg part of our future selves might be sentry and cleaning nano-machines that flow through our arteries and veins.
    Et tu BAUT? Quantum mutatus ab illo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ara Pacis
    I think we'll all become cyborgs over time. However, I think it will be invisible. Some bones and joints might be replaced entirely if the mechanical parts are superior, including the eyes as has been mentioned. What we can regenerate, we will. Prosthetics are will be temporary and new bone or an artificial bone and new skin and muscle might be grown to replace the lost limb. However, I think the more invisible cyborg part of our future selves might be sentry and cleaning nano-machines that flow through our arteries and veins.
    I guess we will have the potential to make disabilities history; it is more or less a matter of time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inclusa View Post
    I guess we will have the potential to make disabilities history; it is more or less a matter of time.
    That's the hope. But we might destroy ourselves before then.
    Et tu BAUT? Quantum mutatus ab illo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ara Pacis
    That's the hope. But we might destroy ourselves before then.
    Alas, humanity is known for its great potential as well as its suicidal tendency.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inclusa View Post
    Alas, humanity is known for its great potential as well as its suicidal tendency.
    It's a noble sentiment, but if you look back at the hundreds of thousands to millions of years of "human" existence, destruction is much more common than realization of great potential.
    Et tu BAUT? Quantum mutatus ab illo.

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    Long term, biological replacement parts should give better quality of life. If we halve the present average world wide death rate that probably solves the declining birth rate problem. Will lots of us work full time to age 165? Neil
    Last edited by neilzero; 2013-Jul-18 at 06:01 PM. Reason: added the word average

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    A French company has gotten approval in 4 countries to try out an implantable artificial heart with exterior lithium batteries:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/14/bu...eart.html?_r=0

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    Quote Originally Posted by neilzero View Post
    Long term, biological replacement parts should give better quality of life. If we halve the present average world wide death rate that probably solves the declining birth rate problem. Will lots of us work full time to age 165? Neil
    Why would we want to reduce the death rate, generally speaking? Maintaining the present population is problematic as it is.

    By the time we're all approaching 165, I think we'll have robot slaves.
    Et tu BAUT? Quantum mutatus ab illo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ara Pacis View Post
    Why would we want to reduce the death rate, generally speaking? Maintaining the present population is problematic as it is.

    By the time we're all approaching 165, I think we'll have robot slaves.
    Or perhaps be the robot slaves of the next generation who has full access to biological replacement parts. Evil... eh?
    Solfe

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    Or perhaps be the robot slaves of the next generation who has full access to biological replacement parts. Evil... eh?
    I'm not sure what you're suggesting. But growing parts from stem cells may be cheaper than growing entire human bodies as support systems for those parts.
    Et tu BAUT? Quantum mutatus ab illo.

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    At 165 you become the robot slave to the next generation of people with non-robotic replacement parts. Something like Battlestar Galatica.
    Solfe

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    [QUOTE=Ara Pacis;2146231]Why would we want to reduce the death rate, generally speaking? Maintaining the present population is problematic as it is. QUOTE]
    As a society we probably don't want to reduce the death rate, but the world death rate per thousand population has halved over the past several hundred years and could halve again before the end of this century, if there is lots of progress in successful transplants mechanical substitutes and biological subsitutes. I hope to live to age 400 and a billion other people have a similar wish = the death rate per thousand decreases.
    In another active tread one poster made a convincing claim that humans will be extinct in 5000 years (or perhaps it was 1500 years) due to present female humans failing to have enough children. No one refuted his hypothesis, but the assumption likely was the present death rate per thousand. I used his data to show that there was a slight upturn in human fertility in resent years which might lead to our surviving much longer. I believe it was the very long tread "why isn't ET here on Earth now" in the life in space section. Neil
    Last edited by neilzero; 2013-Jul-19 at 06:20 AM. Reason: Added last paragraph. The thread name is why still no allien contact?

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    Here is one of the posts about a month ago:
    Quote Originally Posted by Bobunf View Post

    Paul Beardsley wrote, “it's news to me that, given the choice, women generally choose not to have children.”

    On average, an insufficient number of children to continue the species.

    A few examples:

    TOTAL FERTILITY RATES

    Year Brazil Japan Hungary Poland Switzerland Philippines China
    1950 5.93 3.66 . 2.62 . 3.71 . 2.40
    1960 6.06 2.02 . 2.02 . 2.98 . 2.34 . 6.46
    1970 5.33 2.09 . 1.96 . 2.20 . 2.09 . 5.80
    1980 4.09 1.75 . 1.92 . 2.28 . 1.54 . 4.96
    1990 2.56 1.52 . 1.86 . 2.04 . 1.61 . 4.12 . 2.18
    2000 2.13 1.36 . 1.25 . 1.38 . 1.47 . 3.48 . 1.72
    2013 1.81 1.39 . 1.41 . 1.32 . 1.53 . 3.10 . 1.55

    An equilibrium total fertility rate is about 2.1 live births per female--a little over two because only about 48% of births are female, and the mortality and infertility rate of females under 40 is greater than zero. If mortality due to childbirth is low, females constitute a majority of the population, even though more males are born, because the death rate for males exceeds that for females at nearly every age cohort for every racial group.

    If current fertility trends continue, population increase will slow to zero and become negative. Until the human population reaches zero in about 15 centuries. At that point humans will not use any resources.

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    We shouldn't struck into the mindset of traditional pregnancy, although so many pressures have hampered the development of full-fledged artificial womb.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inclusa View Post
    We shouldn't struck into the mindset of traditional pregnancy, although so many pressures have hampered the development of full-fledged artificial womb.
    The development of an artificial womb has been principally hampered by the enormous technical difficulty.
    As above, so below

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