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    ‘We Have No Idea What Disembodied Conscious Brains Might Feel’ - Scholar

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    Researchers from Yale University have managed to revive the brains of slaughtered pigs and keep the reanimated brains alive for 36 hours. Professor Nenan Sestan, who led the experiment, said this work will have a big impact in the medical field.

    Sputnik discussed this with Benjamin Curtis, lecturer in philosophy and ethics at Nottingham Trent University.

    Sputnik: What are your thoughts on the ethical side of this procedure?

    Benjamin Curtis: As mentioned in your report, Professor Nenan Sestan, the leader of this team, didn't keep conscious pig brains alive, they were entirely unconscious, but he said that restoring consciousness is possible and also that the technique could work on human brains.

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    It seems that it's going to be possible to reanimate conscious human brains keeping them alive in a jar outside the body, and the problem with this is that if you were to do this, we have no idea what disembodied conscious brains might feel, and the worry, the ethical worry is that those experiences may very well be deeply disturbing.

    Sputnik: The author of the idea has defended his work saying it could have medical applications, how exactly could his finding be applied?

    Benjamin Curtis: Again, I want to emphasize that Sestan and his team have not brought conscious brains back to life and his team have got no interest in that. What they're looking to do is to mark the connections in the brain in order to better understand how it works. We don't know exactly what medical applications this might have, because the full details of the experiment have not yet been made public; but what Sestan and his team have said is that it could be used to find cancer cures and even to find treatments for Alzheimers and diseases of the brain.

    There's a very good reason to want Sestan and his team to continue with this research; it could be a great benefit to humanity, we just need to be very, very careful about how that research is conducted.

    Sputnik: Do you think scientist should continue to focus their attention on resuscitation and on these projects, or should they be more focused on how to prolong life?

    Benjamin Curtis: I suppose prolonging life depends on how far we want to prolong life for. I don't think there's anything wrong with trying to keep peoples' healthy lifespans going as long as possible; but keeping people alive at all cost does not seem to be a great aim. There would be no joy in living life unless you're in a position to enjoy the experiences of life.

    Sputnik: Immortality has long been a captivating idea for many people, but is it a blessing in your view or could it be a cruise? What complications does it create?

    Benjamin Curtis: I think it could definitely be a curse. Immortality is, strictly speaking, living forever and on for billions and upon billions of years without end; and in my view the joy of living to a great degree depends upon novelty and variety, finding new experiences to enjoy. But if you were to live forever then you simply run out of new things to do new experiences to have and end up living a life of extreme tedium, a meaningless existence, I think that's true even if you're living forever in a young, healthy body.

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    As a disembodied brain in a jar, it would be far worse, you'd be receiving no inputs whatsoever from the outside world, there would be no sights, no smells, no nothing; you could gain no new experiences, no new knowledge, nothing to look forward to; you'd just be enduring inescapable emptiness, and I think that would be truly horrendous.

    The views and opinions expressed by the expert speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

     

     

     

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