Nano Immortality: Russian Approach. Part 1.The title of the book – "Nano Immortality…” may seem yet another trick like "nano youghurt” advertising. Nevertheless, the idea that nano technologies are the way to "practically limitless existence” and "non-ageing”, are far from being new. Some guesses of this can be already found in the earliest texts on nano technologies, and today the correlation between new technologies and the problem of practical immortality is the common ground for most experts. It is not surprising, as the fact that living cells are a kind of natural nano devices is absolutely evident. It is quite clear that to control this basis of life is possible only on the same nano principles.
Another thing is ever more surprising: so far, very few researchers have made any attempts to seriously analyse social, economic and civilizational consequences of such a radical intervention into human nature, which is needed for the realization of the dream of "eternal life”. My works are an attempt to fill this gap and to give answers to the questions – what are we to expect of a new level of human knowledge and skills; what should we prepare ourselves for and be afraid of? It is important to understand that this interest is far from being academic: enormous scientific and material resources now involved into the nano tech development, convince of the reality of forecasts that limitless existence of an individual will become real not in hundreds or thousands of years but in the lifetime of the present generations. The matter is that the process of revealing secrets of biology started long ago, and science has already made considerably progress on this way. This progress is impeded by the lack of instruments adequate to study processes at the cells level. Without any doubt, nano technologies are our main hope in this field.
However, elementary logic suggests that such an important event as the development of the technology of immortality cannot but provoke crucial changes in the world. In fact, having ceased being mortal, man will no longer be Homo Sapiens! Properly speaking, the matter in question is nothing less than the change of intelligent life on the Planet. In anticipation of these events, the world will start to rapidly change, and any changes bring forth social problems, tensions, conflicts and cataclysms. We shall not be able to avoid them this time. Moreover, this period of the Earth history is expected to be one of the most difficult and tragic – the influence of the "immortality factor” will be unprecedented. New technologies will give people invaluable deliverance of physical problems and sufferings, but we’ll have to pay corresponding price for it. Unfortunately, this price will be extremely great.
Helena Hanberger, Ivan Evdokimov
"Who does not feed his army, will feed the others’ armies”. But to have one’s own vision of the future is even more important – who does not have philosophy of his own, will follow the others’ paths, what we have been doing for almost one hundred years. And this brings about discomfort and craving for the national cause, which the works by Vladimir M. Kishinets, philosopher, engineer and sociologist does not involve in any fashion. But they certainly possess a national scope: while the western wise men state that the Earth’s history has already ended with the victory of a pleasant in all respects liberalism, the author argues that fascinating events are just beginning. And then we will face all what is so dear to our hearts – the meaning of life, universal goals, struggle, suffering and radiant future.
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«I have not been reading anything
so intelligent in content for a very long time. …Thank you!» – wrote in
the Internet the reader of V.M. Kishinets’ first monograph - «Nano
Sapiens, or Silence of the Skies» (
Within the framework of the article we mostly did not alter the order of the presentation and titles of the books’ parts.
Perhaps, for the first time the nanotech ideas were publicly formulated by Nobel laureate R. Feynman in his lecture at the luncheon at the American Physical Society in the end of 1959. But they were so ahead of their time that were accepted more in the style of a popular at the time «Scientists are joking» section and then utterly forgotten. Only at the turn of the millennium this technical philosophy was again brought to life under the name of «nanotechnology». As an engineer, the author was deeply impressed by the nanotech technological potential but as a sociologist, never joined cries of admiration «Nanotechnologies will change the world!» typical in such cases. The history shows: new technologies often entail not only the wonders of science and technology but adverse social effects as well. There is a wide range of examples testifying to the fact – extensive traffic jams due to fine new cars, the Luddite wars caused by an innocuous hosiery machine, etc. So what are we to expect from the nanotech – a new technical paradigm the implementation of which is evaluated by many experts as a real technical revolution?
The search for answers to these questions led the author to overwhelming findings: the impact of the new technologies would be phenomenal and lead today’s good old human world first «to a point beyond which there is a reality quite unlike the current one, the reality of another economy, other values, another life, another civilization…».
A new book of V.M.Kishinets continues «the analysis of human, humanitarian consequences of new technologies’ development, primarily of nanotechnologies». The apparent high specialism of the topic is misleading – very soon you begin to understand that it is not a book «on the wonders of engineering» (engineering itself is given little place there), but rather a new theory, an integrated worldview where, as in real life, intellect and economics, psychology and inhabited worlds, philosophy and politics are intricately interwoven. Moreover, the author with commendable modesty calls his work a logical model, «enabling us to better conceive a little fragment of an immense mosaic of the world». We would add for ourselves that this fragment is extremely valuable, as it is nothing but a part of the mechanism of intelligent life development, a model that enables us to perceive our extraordinary future and to come closer to understanding the nature of the laws governing our existence.
All the readers of the «Nano Sapiens…» will find much known information in the first part of the new book – its first chapter is dedicated to the already mentioned theory of transition, without which it is impossible to understand the second part of the book, where global socio-economic issues and political problems of the pre-transition period are being analyzed.
A Few Words on Technology
What is nanotechnology? The following definition is put forward in this paper: «a collective term for various ways of manipulating individual nano-sized objects (a nanometer – a billionth part of a meter or millionth part of a millimeter), down to molecules or atoms». A nanometer (nm) is the measure of the atomic molecular world: the size of a molecule of olive oil is about 1.7 nm, of a molecule of water – 0.2 nm. The size of a ribosome, one of the working parts of a living cell amounts to 10-20 nm.
Even R.Feynman in the above-mentioned speech said that in principal, nothing forbids to create any objects «atom by atom». But what is the way to do it? How are we to grasp a single atom that resembles a solid ball only in a picture in textbooks? How to put it in the proper place with the proper (incredibly high) precision? Moreover, how are we to detect this atom, because with a size smaller than the length of light waves, it is not visible at all? These problems seemed unsolvable a few decades ago. Even today many people would be surprised to know that the necessary technologies have already existed for over 20 years. Wonderful instruments called atomic force microscopes, which, however, have nothing in common with conventional microscopes, are able not only to «see» single atoms but to move them with surprising precision. These sophisticated instruments (by the way, Russia is in the first ranks of the world manufacturers of these devices), were invented as early as in the middle of the 80s by Swiss physicists G.Binnig and G.Rorer. It is with their assistance that works are being carried out today in hundreds of nanotech laboratories and scientific centers.
How can such an atom-by-atom production be useful in practice? First of all, we can produce structural materials not found in nature, with unusual properties, super-hard, super-light, super-plastic, super-solid and super-pure. Varying in structure and form, single-piece and so extremely durable, of any fantastic shape, made out of any now hard-to-treat materials. The atom-by-atom production provides a significant progress in electronics, aviation, energy, in many other fields of science and technology and undoubtedly enables us to make a huge technological leap. There are such projects as an individual nano-factory in the kitchen that produces anything using specialized programs, from a new swimming suit to a mobile phone or a replica of some museum brooch. It would be something like a three-dimensional printer, the size of a microwave oven, «printing» any objects atom by atom.
At the place of production in full silence, without shrilling cutters and splashes of hot metal, such devices would be manufacturing the most complicated components of unprecedented strength and precision. They would be able to make what is impossible today, for example, to combine in a single design, with no adhesives and metal welding, metal, glass and rubber parts to glaze a cockpit. Such technologies would reduce the weight of future aircraft, increasing their reliability and efficiency. But still it would be hardly possible to notice any differences from today’s aircraft. And the improvement of flight characteristics would not be so radical. Nano-trains, nano-cars and the more nano-ships would not be fundamentally different. In general, all the machines needed to satisfy basic significant human wants have already been invented. In future their improvement is possible but principally new needs will not arise, so it is difficult to assume that something may appear in the area of machinery «to turn our world over». Some time ago, the invention of sewage and the WC was a breakthrough in the field of hygiene and comfort. Today you can buy an electronic WC with heating, automatic control and a built-in musical center. From a technical point of view it is thousand times more complicated than an old toilet, but it is hardly adequate to consider it revolutionary.
The use of the nanotech in the weapons area also does not promise any revolutions, for example, the creation of something more advanced than today’s rocket and nuclear weapons. As to the improvement of individual parameters, it certainly is the usual practice.
(In this area, however, there is a problem that will require special attention in due time, – some particularly troublesome citizens would have the possibility to «print» bullets and pistols, or even the parts of an atomic bomb in some garage. This new headache is a special issue, which requires a special consideration in the near future).
In general, the author is of the opinion that in the area familiar to us, that is in a surrounding machine civilization – machinery – the nanotech will be another, though extremely successful stage of the production and technical progress.
Does this mean that the new technologies will affect our life insignificantly? On the contrary, their effect will be immense.
Imagine that instead of a mobile phone a nanoprinter «printed» a special device from individual atoms, which, however, has accessories for movement, actuators («hands»), an in-built computer, means of communication with other such devices and can work on operator commands or by means of internal programs. Such devices – «nanorobots» - (or nobots, as the author calls them) are the second basic idea of the nanotech after the «atom printer». Nobots can be very small and able to perform useful tasks in a variety of media: clean the Earth from pollution, assist people in extracting minerals, repair the inside of engines, and perform a great many other functions that today seem absolutely fantastic. You do not need to have a very rich imagination to understand how useful they can be.
However, for human beings it is the development of biological nanorobots (bionobots) i.e. robots designed to act within the living bodies, would be of utmost importance and could radically change their destiny. Placed inside the human body, they can, for example, remove cholesterol deposits in blood vessels, cure thousands of diseases, making necessary operations, carry out necessary cosmetic changes, etc, doing all that in an accurate, quiet and invisible way, without any blood and pain. Even more advanced robots will be able to penetrate inside a living cell and «operate» the very basis of life – a molecule of the DNA, thereby eliminating faults in a human organism at their initial stage. This will mark a victory over diseases, the possibility to treat mental disorders, defects of character, to enhance intellectual abilities, memory, etc. For humanity this is of more importance than the most advanced machines.
Such nanomedicine perspectives have a substantial basis. Today we become aware with surprise that in nature the biological nanotech has been existing for billions of years, that any living organism is a community of vast numbers of living cells and each of them is a real natural nano-factory. The analogy is surprisingly accurate: in the cell as in real production there are main drawings – molecules of the DNA, working drawings – the mRNA, and industrial robots – ribosomes, collecting protein compounds from the working drawings, and other amazing nanomechanizms. It is clear that you can influence effectively the work of nanodevices only at the same nano-level. And biological nanorobots seem to be a very adequate tool for this purpose.
But the bionobots themselves are not so new. The enormous diversity of biological nanoinstruments – bacteria, viruses – can not only operate within living organisms, but also interact with the DNA of cells. The idea to have micro-assistants inside your body is also not new – there is a mass of micro-organisms inside us, without which we will perish.
There are no basic restrictions on the development of useful artificial micro-devices – nobots. By the way, they may not necessarily be hardware, but also protein, hardware-protein, and even a sort of some «tamed» viruses. But certainly any nanodevices are nothing but instruments. To intervene successfully in the cell, knowledge of its operation is required and today substantial knowledge in the field has already been accumulated. Many of us, perhaps, have heard about the progress in studying the human genome. But few people know that both individual elements of nanorobots – manipulators, propulsion, means of communications and management – and ways of their application have already been developed in the world for a number of years. Connecting instruments - nanorobots, with the knowledge of the cell will give us powerful nanobiology and nanomedicine.
It is not hard to understand that by developing the nanomedicine, people can not only treat diseases but also get the perspective to stay forever young, to conquer the genetic mechanisms of aging, this «tender murderer» of all living. In other words, if people cope with aging, they will become virtually…immortal. And today experts do not see any fundamental restrictions to do so.
But the paradox is that, even defeating aging, we will not solve the problem of our mortality, because the living protein bodies are deplorably vulnerable. They are killed by a very insignificant mechanical impact, instability of temperature, tiny doses of radiation, because of the lack of oxygen, loss of blood, etc. Transport accidents, fires, terrorist attacks, maniacs, wars, poisons and many other aspects are a constant threat to human life. Would any of us refuse to have a terminator body, which does not burn in the fire and does not sink in the water? Therefore, creating the nanomedicine, man, no doubt, will not only cure diseases, but also carry out the most active «modernization» of his body in an effort to make it safer and more invulnerable. And on this way there already exist theoretical research works of the most radical «conversion» of the human body using the same nanotech.
The analysis shows that to solve the problem of vulnerability and along with it the problem of real immortality is not possible within the protein bodies – this material is very fragile. There is only one way out – to gradually step aside from biology and replace it with hardware - this is no coincidence that in science fiction films invulnerable creatures are not made of meat and bones but of solid or liquid metal. There is no doubt that such attempts will begin as soon as man get the first nanorobots. Humans very successfully replaced the horse by cars, so who can forbid us to develop a stronger, invulnerable, everlasting new body for ourselves? And indeed, man, who will never accept death with resignation, simply has no choice. And it is the nanotech that will become the tool which will enable us to do it within a relatively short historical period. Without any doubt, in a foreseeable historical period, intelligent life on our Planet will receive a new, everlasting and invulnerable material carrier of our personality, worthy of the beings possessing the gift of thinking, instead of our mortal, fragile bodies. A person, acquiring power over his own body, will cease to be its slave and become its master.
The End of Man
However, it is known that one has to pay for everything in life. Therefore, it is no surprise that the result of these human metamorphoses would be quite unexpected: in the long run, man will be transformed into virtually invulnerable eternal being but in the process he will totally cease to be… human. "The use of nanorobots for medical purposes which is forecasted to come in 10-15 years, will initiate a transition of intelligent life on the Earth from the current natural-biological form of homo sapiens into a technological form – nano sapiens. Intelligent life will immediately finish its bio-evolutionary stage and will further on exist in totally new physical forms.” This is evidently the central phrase of the book related to its most crucial idea that can be termed the "hypothesis or theory of the Transition”.
Nano sapiens and others
This shocking forecast is based on the premise of the inevitability of radical technological redevelopment of human organism: the possible substitution of blood with a variety of special nano devices, bone tissue – with metal, the implantation of nanocomputers and communication means, etc. This process will result in the transition from man as an evolution product to a technological self-regulating being, the transfer of a natural faculty of thinking from homo sapiens physical body into a totally different physical form that the author has termed nano sapiens (NS).
It is important to note that people who have lived until this Transition, will not disappear or perish but just transform into a new state in accordance with the essential principle of continuity of intelligence. If we consider a human body as an apartment and a human soul as its inhabitant, the shift process would be similar to "a complete capital reconstruction of the apartment without resettlement”. In the result, the apartment will radically change. And though the personality will not undergo repairs, we know how drastically an individual can be transformed in these new conditions, therefore, the changes of the personality will also be inevitable in the Transition process.
As a consequence, NS will become a totally new being. Our successor will not resemble us in any way, either in his appearance – if it is appropriate to consider appearance in our current sense, or in his interior life. Here another analogy is appropriate – the Transition as the transformation of a pupa into a butterfly: a butterfly is the result of a pupa’s existence but has nothing in common with it.
As in the Biblical Paradise, NS will not have either a wife, or a husband, or children, family or relatives. No such concepts as work, rest, sleeping, food, money, cinema, books or art will exist. They won’t need clothes, dwellings, organic food and oxygen. NS will not create artificial environment for their life like men, adopting their bodies (material carriers of their personalities) to external environment, that is much more effective from the energy point of view. They will need less external technical devices. There will be no wars, diseases and sufferings in their world. We can list these differences endlessly. But it should be mentioned that they won’t have bodies in the usual sense. According to this logic, they will be substituted by some dispersed structures.
A major difference from man will be that NS won’t have any instincts. They will purposedly "switch off” this control system, thus delivering themselves of the irrational burden of "human bondage”. It goes without saying that anything that is caused by instincts – aggression, criminality, violence, states, nations, armies and boundaries will cease to exist. The NS world will differ from the human world more radically than "the organisms of the age of the origin of life differ from modern man”. They will have only one thing in common – the faculty of thinking.
Still, we should in no case consider nano sapiens as some real being. It is just a symbol for the next (and not final) stage of the intelligent life development, succeeding man. This next stage will involve the realization of the utility principle: "in Nature many mortal beings are needed to sustain life activity, and only one immortal will suffice”, therefore, one immortal being is in all senses more optimal than billions of individual species. Nature is ever striving for optimality and in the foreseeable future individual NS will integrate into a single immortal being-civilization. This new self or, if you will, a new stage of intelligent life existence, the author called "mega sapiens”.
So far, it is extremely difficult to conceive the outlines of mega sapiens but one of the consequences of his birth will be a considerable reduction of the Earth civilization energy consumption – one mega sapiens will need thousand times less energy than the present multibillion population of the Planet.
In order to embrace the idea of the Transition from a psychological point of view, it is by no means unimportant to conceive that this is a way to provide the survival of the Earth intelligent life that is now completely defenseless to natural disasters. It is only due to lucky chance that homo sapiens still exist on the planet where a lot of living beings have already disappeared. But luck cannot last forever. It is unwise to think that our rockets, computers, houses and cars can defend us against planetary changes or disasters in any way. We should develop principally new means of physical protection, considering that now and in the foreseeable future we are not able to oppose Nature. For this purpose, the Transition may become a totally unique possibility.
It should be taken into consideration that Humanity does not have any historical future because of our inherent extensive way of development. The Earth resources cannot endure ever growing consumption. The idea of our possible expansion to other planets also seems rather doubtful from an ethical point of view and totally unreal in practice. In this case the Transition also appears a quite adequate solution of the problem.
Therefore, there is a wide range of various arguments and technological prerequisites of the transition from a biological stage of development of intelligent life on the Earth to a technological one. For millions of years life on our Planet has been evolving in accordance with the evolution laws irrespective of living beings’ will. But we are soon to face a moment when intelligent life reaches such a technological level that it will become able to change itself in its own interests. And this will be a logical, objective and inevitable stage of any intelligent life development.
We can consider the Transition as a result of man’s struggle for the improvement of its existence. However, this aspiration cannot be only a human characteristic - it should be inhering in all the intelligences in the Universe, compelling them to develop technologies, like the Earthmen. At a certain stage, any intelligence (we are not exception) invents nanotechnologies and becomes able to create a new physical body for itself. But physical laws are the same in the whole Universe, so an optimal form of this new body should be similar. It is the evidence that any intelligent life, notwithstanding its origin, transforms into a totally new physical form that we term "mega sapiens”. Thus, the overall conclusion is as follows: a transition from an evolutionary-biological form to a technological one is a universal law for all the intelligent life.
This premise is further substantiated by… a failure of SETI – the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence Program. This well-known program is based on an anthropomorphic idea that more ancient and developed civilizations who, as estimated, exist in multitude in the Universe, should gradually master surrounding interplanetary space, consuming more and more energy in the process. It is impossible not to observe such astral engineering activities from the Earth. But the long-term SETI observations have demonstrated that there are no such activities in the Universe. However, this paradox is easily solved by the Transition theory that states that, having reached the nanotechnologies level, any intelligent civilization drastically reduces energy consumption and economic activities. The silence of the Universe is accounted for by the fact that alien civilizations have already passed the Transition point (which is in no way in contradiction with calculations) and, not being of biological nature anymore, do not need either space expansion, or huge amounts of energy. It is also clear that they do not need communications in a human sense, at least via radio. Therefore, the silence of the Universe is, at a minimum, an indirect proof in favor of the Transition theory.
So, nanotechnologies are the most effective tools for the solution of the problems related to our biological nature. So far, few people are aware of this, but when this idea wins recognition, it will radically change the motivation for the development of nano technologies, making them more humanitarian problems related to the preservation of human life and health, than prospective technical-and-economic projects. Still, it is this very task that is the quintessence of humanism. Therefore, the rejection of the nanotechnologies development by any state means a political alienation of this society from the solution of the most urgent human task – concern for human life. Nevertheless, it is likely that efforts for the development of nanotechnologies will be eventually taken by the most energetic people, as people are not willing to die and they will do their utmost to stop suffering caused by our imperfect bodies. "Not everybody will like the idea of the Transition, but they dislike death even more”.
So, what does the nano revolution imply? Like E. Tsiolkovsky, the author puts forward the following aphorism: "A human body is the cradle of intelligence, but we cannot stay in the cradle forever”. Nowadays we are our bodies’ slaves that have to serve them in full obedience. In future, we will become our own masters. That is why nanotechnologies are so revolutionary. And this revolution is just around the corner.It is appropriate to conclude the review of Section 1 of the book with the following quotation: "”The hypothesis of the Transition gives a precise and intelligible answer to the perennial philosophical question – who are we and where are we going to…?”