Tuesday, July 19, 2016

There is nothing mythically good about the human body.

I have just started watching the Galaxy Express 999. It is an old Japanese animation (broadcast in 1978), and it was famous in Korea. I think I watched several episodes of it when I was a kid, but I did not watch the entire series, so I have little memory of it. A lot of people mention this animation as if it has some deep philosophical meanings, so I decided to give it a try.

I have watched only the first two episodes so far. Basically, the story seems to be that a poor young boy travels to a distant planet where he can transform his body into a mechanical body for free. The show takes place in some year 2200s, where humans are basically divided into two groups: the rich and the poor. The rich class live on the surface and the rest of humans live underground. The rich class seems to live like today's normal middle class humans, but they have transformed their body into seemingly hideous mechanical body (think about the robot C-3PO from the Star Wars), and enjoy the disease-free eternal life. The poor class cannot afford the mechanical body and live in a situation that seem to be worse than that of today's Africa. A boy from the poor class and his mother try to escape to a city on the surface where they could get on a space train that will transfer them to a distant planet where they can get free mechanical bodies.

Now, some of the rich class enjoy hunting the poor class humans with guns as if they were animals, despite the fact that they both speak the same language. They killed the boy's mother and tried to make her as a stuffed animal. Do you think this is a probable future? I can hardly think it would be. Even today, most humans object to hunting and killing human-like animals such as gorillas or chimpanzees for fun. So, why would a society, that has so advanced that they can even transform human bodies would allow hunting and killing humans who even speak the same language? The author just probably wanted to make the future look gloomy and wanted to tell that there is something wrong with the mechanical bodies even though it was very unlikely.

I already get what the author is trying to say after watching just two episodes

In the second episode, the boy arrives at Mars. The people on Mars already have mechanical bodies but they are so unhappy for some unknown reason. An old man has only his one leg replaced with mechanical leg because he could not afford the full body transformation. At the end of the episode, the old man says something like this.
"Only my mechanical leg is healthy and the rest of my body is dying. Soon I will die. No one knows if it is the only good thing to living long. I now think that the best thing is to live naturally and to die naturally. People who could not die when they should have are miserable."
I have just watched like 2% of the show, but I think I can kind of predict what the whole story would be like. Something like "It is natural the way we are now, do not try to change!" Well, I disagree with the author completely. The author says as if there is something that has been decided by some superior being that we humans should not change. There is no such thing.

So, what is naturalanyway?

If you ask it to people 20,000 years ago, they would say that living naturally is roaming on bare foot all day long for some fruits or dead animal carcusses. They would say that dying naturally is either death by starvation or disease, or eaten by large predators such as lions. They did not have any medicines we have now. A simple wound could have killed them due to bacteria infection, and that was natural. See, no animals in the wild use antibiotics! Most humans probably could not live up to 30. This miserable way of living is probably the most natural thing in a sense, just like wild animals.

If you ask what natural for humans is to people 1000 years ago, they would say that living naturally is either working on a farm all day long. Death by simple disease that we can cure now would be a very natural death for them. The average human life expectancy was less than 60.

So what do you think is natural? Do you think it is natural that your body's immune system gets weak at the age round 80 and you die of complications from diseases? Don't you think it is just a quite arbitrary idea drown by what you happen to be accustomed to? Who decided dying at the age 80 is the natural way? We modern humans happen to live up to age 80 now, but that does not mean we should live up to only about 80. No one, and nothing has fixed that. People in the future who may have found cures for various disease that we cannot currently cure, may live up to 150 years and they would think it is natural for humans to live up to the age 150. There may even be some sort of philosophical novel about why it is natural to live up to the age 150 and it is unnatural to live longer than that.

Almost all medical practices are unnatural. Animals usually die when they get diseases after suffering horrible pains. Early humans also died like that. If you think it is so important to live and die naturally, why cure diseases? It is very arbitrary and annoying that people define what we currently can do to be natural, and what we currently cannot do unnatural.

Face it, humans bodies have so many problems

We are all covered with dust mites which are disgusting and may cause allergies. Parasitic worms are crawling and mating on the eyelashes of 80% of people. Toxoplasma gondii, the brain controlling parasites, live in the brains of 30% of people. And there are a lot of other parasites that even people in the developed countries harbor.

Even a single organ failure could be deadly. For example, no matter how smart you are, if your liver fails, your brain dies with it. What a loss.

Your beauty starts to fade at about age 40 as your skin gets loose and weak. Your eye gets dim and eventually you can hardly live without glasses. Your old body cannot defend itself against new influenzas, so you will have to be vaccinated each year.

A lot of time and efforts should be taken just to take care of your body. Sleeping takes 1/3 of your entire life, eating could take several hours a day if you prepare your own food. You like sleeping and eating? Good for you, but some people do not, but they have to do those anyway.

It is very annoying that most authors depict that humans bodies have some inherent greatness that cyborg bodies can never have. I think they are just dreaming. Sure, the early cyborgs should not be as good as human bodies. But that is as if when the first digital cameras came out, fans of analogue cameras were arguing that digital cameras might be convenient but their picture quality was so low, and would never be as good as that of analogue cameras. Technology improves faster over time. Now, digital cameras can take pictures as good as analogue cameras, and few people miss analogue cameras.

Cyborg bodies will be improving fast. If they become just as good as the humans bodies, I mean if your brain cannot feel any difference, and it never gets any disease, requires little of your maintenance so that you can spend your time on the things you love, what advantages would a biological human body have? 

Do you hate the idea that we humans live unnaturally long?

Are you like the old man in the second episode of Galaxy Express 999? Do you think it would be miserable not to be able to die naturally? No one will force you to live long. We will be just given of choices. Currently we die at about age 80 whether we would like to live longer or not. When we can transform our bodies to cyborgs, people who want to live long can live long, and people who want to die at age 80 will also be able to do so. After all, it is a cyborg body, it would be quick and painless to make it stop functioning than the biological human body.

So, what is so bad about we humans getting cyborg bodies, again?

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