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HOST: Professor Susan Greenfield is Director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain and professor of pharmacology at Oxford University

PROF. GREENFIELD: Hello, I am looking forward to meeting you virtually

HOST: If Homo superior is expected to live so much longer than Homo sapien, won't there need to be a change in the way society perceives the aged?

PROF. GREENFIELD: It is important to realise that the 'aged' will have changed substantially in the future. Homo superior will be living longer because they are healthier and therefore will not be as impaired in physical function as many of the elderly are today. Hence the perception of society towards the aged will certainly change because the aged will have changed too.

AMIMFJ: Hello,... do you think that people will have more and more computerised elements added to their bodies? What should improve first? Who would you trust to write the code?

PROF. GREENFIELD: Although computer parts may help with our physical body function, it is unlikely that C, Si transfers will be useful for brain function. It is impossible to download a memory! Conversely, it would be unnecessary to implant fact-related chips when we can just as easily access info externally.

MIKEC: Would Professor Greenfield be using such methods to acheive immortality?

PROF. GREENFIELD: If I could I would, but it is unlikely that IT will ever prolong the life of the biological brain.

TIM: Which anti-depressants are best for panic attacks trycyicies or ssris?

PROF. GREENFIELD: SSRIs are the most modern medication but I would suggest that you get personal advice form your GP.

ANDY FAUL: Do you think there will ever be a safe form of anti-depressant , i.e. without side effects or addictive properties?

PROF. GREENFIELD: Any drug working on the brain that targets a specific chemical will always have other effects and other than those needed.

IAN: I'm a psychiatric nurse; can we look forward to a time when we will not have anything called schizophrenia and will personality disorders be modified by gene therapy?

PROF. GREENFIELD: Gene therapy has two problems: 1 even when a disease can be related to a gene, the problem of accessing that gene has so far proved impossible. 2 Regarding disorders of the brain, it is unlikely that there is such a single thing "for" a complex syndrome.

AK: What place has the soul in the future scheme of things ?

PROF. GREENFIELD: The soul is immortal, for those who believe in it, and therefore should not be confused with issues relating to the mortal brain.

MIKEC: Obviously all of these life prolonging methods would be useful, but if the brain dies there is no point -right? So is it possible to prolong the life of a human brain?

PROF. GREENFIELD: In the future it might be possible to cool the brain down and put it on "hold". Life wouldn't necessarily be prolonged, but extended.

STEVENDAN: Would it be possible for genetic modifications to behavior to be used for state control??

PROF. GREENFIELD: As I said in my article, it would be best that the issue of superiority is discarded in favour of individuality.

HOST: Email Question asked: Who decides what is 'superior'?

Susan answered: A big problem, that I expressed in my essay is the fallacy of 'superiority'. If my suggestions were adopted instead each individual would celebrate their own highly personal mind and body and there would thus be no need for such decision making.

HOST: Email Question asked: If 'imperfect' babies are born to Homo superior couples, what will happen to them?

Susan answered: The issue of imperfect babies would not arise if the guidelines were adopted.

SHEILA: Would you like to see a world where, because of genetic filtering, no disabilities existed anymore?

PROF. GREENFIELD: Of course I would like to see a world where no one is in pain or suffering, but it is important to distinguish suffering from more general eugenics.

TIM: Which pills help people with panic attacks and what happens in the brain when people get them?

PROF. GREENFIELD: It is impossible for a chemical to target specific state of mind; rather the medication will alleviate a mediating factor.

HOST: Email Question: When the first Homo superiors are born, who will 'control' them and can we trust them?

Susan answered: It is unlikely that a whole generation of Homo Superior would suddenly appear. A more likely scenario is that people will become progressively healthier as indeed they have been doing for most of this century.

BAIN: Given the current intolerence between different races, is there a chance for a new human species co-existing with homo sapiens, or would homo sapiens need to be eliminated for the new species' survival?

PROF. GREENFIELD: Sadly, a desire to be part of a group and shut out others seems to be part of our current makeup. Perhaps Hom sup would have the wisdom to realize the folly of this and to appreciate diversity

DEL2: What are your views on the effects of cannabis on consciousness ?

PROF. GREENFIELD: Cannabis, like all drugs, will modify the brain in a wholesale way. It will have risks just like any other psychoactive agent yet at the same time modify consciousness. My own view is that it should be given for genuine med needs, but regarded with caution as a recreational drug.

ALGERNON: Do you think that a sufficiently accurate simulation of a human brain would be conscious when run on a computer, or that consciousness requires aspects of physics that rely on specific biological hardware? (eg. Penrose's ideas about nonlocality, microtubules etc)

PROF. GREENFIELD: I think that a computer will never be conscious, not only because of the problems indicated by Penrose (of intuition and common sense) but in addition because no one has as yet addressed the issue of emotion, which are in turn chemically based. I think that P's ideas could be valuable if coordinated with more macro events described by neuroscientists.

ANGST: What are your views on cloning organs? Are there any organs which you would not clone?

PROF. GREENFIELD: Cloning of organs below the neck that serve only mechanistic functions will surely be preferable to waiting in vain for a transplant. On the other hand it would be imposs to clone a brain as its operations are rooted in its experiences throughout are epigenetic.

EX1HAWK: Do you feel we need to develop bettter political structure (more respectful of human difference) as we become trans-human?

PROF. GREENFIELD: We must certainly be as respectful as poss of human diffs, irrespective of whether or not we are transhuman.

DEL: With increased life expectancy, how do you see the future of cryogenics?

PROF. GREENFIELD: Although the brain wouldn't survive freezing, advanced cryos could aim at keeping brain tissue at about 4\deg C; operations would thus be put on hold, and with it one's own individual lfe.

MIKEC: What is the professor's ideal lifespan, ie how long would she like to live?

PROF. GREENFIELD: It depends on how active my brain remained: so long as I was healthy and able to look after myself I would like to live for as long as poss!

ELEMENTAL: If our lifespans are lengthened to 130 years, how badly will this affect the global population crises?

PROF. GREENFIELD: This is impossible to calculate as at the same time trends are changing in contraception and food supply.

BRAINDEAD: Do you think the next generation of computers will be silicon based or carbon based?

PROF. GREENFIELD: They could be carbon based, but should still not be confused with a biological brain, any more than currently existing Si neurons can be confused with the real thing.

JOE: Do you think it is possible for two independent minds to co-exist in a single brain?

PROF. GREENFIELD: The cases of so-called split-brain once suggested that the halves of the brain operated independently. However, this idea has been questioned; eg, one patient remarked, "What are you trying to do to me, dr; make two people of me?" The critical issue is that the brain is attached to a single body and gets info from the whole system.

Y2K: Do you think GM foodstuffs are completely safe or do we need more tests conducted?

PROF. GREENFIELD: In the light of recent evidence, we would seem to need more work!

AK: We are determined to interfere with nature at our cost. What about natural selection ?

PROF. GREENFIELD: Nat Sel operates over long timescale, for example, our brains are still almost the same as 30000 years ago. The different timescales suggest that our tampering and nat sel will not cross-react

AMIMFJ: Yep me again... If life can be extended greatly,.. it creates problems for society,.. multiple muderers,.. could serve their 150 years and then be let free,.. would we allow a person to be in prision for that long ?,.. and would euthinasia, become commonplace when people get bored of life..?

PROF. GREENFIELD: A greatly extended lifespan would entail a greatly changed society, where there were far more opportunities to do a greater range of things. It is hard to imagine how one might be bored.

DEL2: Do you feel disease emanates from thoughts ?

PROF. GREENFIELD: There is evidence that the CNS and the immune system are interactive. Suggest reading : "The Sickening Mind" by Paul Martin.

SPRINGY: Do you believe the mind has an anatomical basis, or is beyond conventional biological thinking?

PROF. GREENFIELD: I firmly believe that the mind is the personalization of the physical brain achieved by living out a unique set of experiences.

GUNNER: Is there a temptation to tamper with the brain while ceasing to age biologically?

PROF. GREENFIELD: The brain is the one organ of the body that gets better with age so long as it does not fall victim to disease.

CHROME: Do you believe that it is possible to physically connect the human brain/mind into a computer system AKA William Gibson's 'Neuromancer' ?

PROF. GREENFIELD: Yes: through the sense organs. In the future it might be possible for thoughts to trigger changes in computers. This should not imply that we will be able to download a personality or even a memory!

DARKHORSE_: Susan, would you agree that men are much better at separating their emotions from their cognitave thinking process, and women have a much high er E.Q then men ?

PROF. GREENFIELD: Men are certainly more goal-orientated; but at the same time cannot multitask as well as women. However, much of the problem relating to their emotional expression could be related to cultural differences rather than anything more fundamental.

STEVENDAN: Could you envisage a scenario where there is no male or female - either or both would carry offspring?

PROF. GREENFIELD: It might certainly be possible for a man to carry a baby; but a more likely scenario is that children will be incubated in artificial wombs.

JOE: What evolutionary purpose does consciouness serve?

PROF. GREENFIELD: It enables the brain to integrate with the vital organs, the immune system, and the endocrine system. Only by being conscious can we have a coordinated response of the body to, for instance, stress.

AK: If homo sup. ultimately becomes perfect what place will religion have ?

PROF. GREENFIELD: Religion has served not to compensate for imperfection, but to bring a host of sensations and beliefs to people for improving the prospects for their current life. It is hard to see how an improved memory or a longer life would, on their own, supplant those beliefs.

HOST: Dr David Starkey will here at 15:00 GMT next week (Sunday 21st February) with The English. David Starkey will be asking what happens after the disintegration of the UK. That is all we have time for so let me thank Susan Greenfield for answering all the questions so well.

PROF. GREENFIELD: It was a pleasure! Goodbye.

HOST: Thank you for joining us this afternoon and we look forward to seeing you at the same time next Sunday. Thank you and good afternoon.

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