World as it should have been, world as it may yet become
05 February 2013
Because the problem of curing biological aging is so complex, an intermediate step toward life extension which has been proposed is the development of artificial bodies into which the brains of elderly people (and later perhaps just minds, once computer brain emulation becomes sophisticated enough) could be transplanted. For this to be a satisfactory option, robotics would need to be able to replicate the capabilities and even the appearance of the human body very accurately, but technology is already more advanced in this area than many realize, although no one has yet made such a good imitation that an observer would actually be unable to distinguish it from a real person. These videos are from Japan, which is, as far as I know, still the most advanced country in robotics:
One of the more challenging problems has been walking and balance, which require surprisingly sophisticated systems in actual humans, given our upright stance, so unusual in the animal kingdom. We've made some progress there as well, however.
One necessary area where robotics lags behind is the replication of human senses. Robots can see and hear well enough, but generally cannot feel, taste, or smell, since these abilities are not necessary for most tasks for which we currently use robots. It's the makers of prosthetic limbs for amputees who have the most reason to be working on a sense of touch.
Obviously this technology still has far to go -- but with the pace of progress today, I suspect we'll see startling results within the present decade.
Individualist, transhumanist, American patriot, socialist, atheist, liberal, optimist, pragmatist, and regular guy -- it has been my great good fortune to live my whole life free of "spiritual" concepts of any kind. I believe that evidence and reason are the keys to understanding reality; that it is technology rather than ideology or politics that has been the great liberator of humanity; and that in the long run human intelligence is the most powerful force in the universe.