Transhumanists argue that technology can make accidental death obsolete. They further argue that:
If some people would still choose death, that’s a choice that is of course to be regretted, but nevertheless this choice must be respected. The transhumanist position on the ethics of death is crystal clear: death should be voluntary. This means that everybody should be free to extend their lives and to arrange for cryonic suspension of their deanimated bodies. It also means that voluntary euthanasia, under conditions of informed consent, is a basic human right.
This position is hugely problematic.
- As persuasive technologies improve
and as we learn more about our cognitive biases, we are discovering how weak the concept of “informed consent” really is.
- Worse, they are now requiring the creation of a system to adjudicate whether informed consent was really given or not on a per-individual basis. Right now, the procedural costs of executing someone who has received the Death Penalty exceed the costs of a life in prison. Who would pay those costs for someone to execute themselves?
- Worse still, any system adjudicating informed consent is guaranteed to make mistakes. It will have to balance the risk of some people being “unfairly” kept alive with the risk of murder. To me, the presumption should be against murder. Such a presumption would imply simply banning suicide.
- More subtly, if the decision to extend life or not is also the outcome of informed consent, do we now have to subject the use of any life-extension technology to the “informed consent” bureacracy? How do we know that someone isn’t being unfairly pressured into being kept-alive?
The Transhumanists need to acknowledge that the creation of these technologies effectively will impose longer lives on people whether they like it or not?