Posted by: prataap | January 30, 2008



Now that we have conquered all that there is on earth, or so it seems, we are entering the last frontier of forbidden territories: The land of death and dying. And we will be hearing a lot more about this subject and all of its political, social, ethical, physical, and financial implications for the next 50 years as DNA testing and organ regeneration and nano surgery bring eternal life closer and closer to possible. Or at least make I00 years seem more like mid-life.

More importantly in the short term, we have some fascinating dilemmas to ponder as the human genome project wraps up the first stage of decoding every single gene in the human body. Along with the possibility of increasing numbers of genetic therapies for diabetes and heart and other ailments, one key possibility that will be available in the next 5-10 years or less is knowing what you are going to die from and when! A most fascinating and horrifying proposition all at once. It raises a slew of unthinkable possibilities and questions. Do I want to know? If I do, what do I do next? who do I tell? My siblings & children may not want to know because they may have the same gene and therefore may be predisposed to the same disease? If I know, then what do I do differently with my life?

Similarly, new technologies will allow us to have our dead loved ones around us, practically forever. Digital technology can now re-create a person with even her personality intact. Caleb Owens and Digital Domains, the company that did the special effects for both Apollo 13 and True Lies, are working on creating a convincing, animated double of James Brown…. ”It cannot just look like James Brown. It’s got to have the attitude, it’s got to have the soul, got to have the truth that is this guy.”  Or how about Todd Michaels of who came up with the idea in 2000 of a site where you could leave notes to be sent to your family or friends years after you’re gone.

So what do we do now that we’ll know when and how we’ll die, and that we can even leave ourselves behind, attitude intact?

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