Extension and Cryonic Suspension Issues
(DF) Suppose it turns out that caloric restriction works as well
in humans as in rats--resulting in a fifty percent increase in
lifespan. Is a parent who doesn't deliberately keep his child very
thin guilty of child neglect?
(DE): Assume scientists make an incredible breakthrough that makes
it possible to extend one’s life indefinitely. Should
existing life estates originally created before this
breakthrough—where the original owner had no way of foreseeing
that the life tenant may live for so long—be capped at some number
of years (e.g. 100, 150)? Or should the life tenant still own the
land until his death?
(DE): As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978,
copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an
additional 70 years. Would this become unconstitutional as a
violation of the Copyright Clause’s “limited times” requirement if
it becomes possible to extend one’s life indefinitely?
(LY): Will age be a privacy issue? Do you have to carry id
to show your actual age all the time?
(RP): Telomeres/telomerase gene sequences currently patentable
under US law. This could potentially tie the ability to create or
use life prolonging to whoever is able to first isolate these gene
sequences. Is this okay, or does the importance and/or impact of
life prolonging treatments demand a different result?
(RP): Following this line of questioning, should there be a form
of law exceptionalism, in the manner of jurisprudence relating to
the growth of the internet. Internet exceptionalism allowed the
internet to grow rapidly by affording in protection from standard
communication laws, and jurisdiction (e.g. the zippo test for
personal jurisdiction when dealing with internet sites).
(RP): If life extension comes into existence, and health insurance
still exists, should the government mandate that life extension
treatments be covered under all forms of insurance, much like
emergency care, etc.? Much in the way that birth control and basic
health services have come to be considered fundamental medical
services, would giving everyone with health insurance access to
these treatments prevent class stratification?
(RP): If life extension turns out to be an all or nothing
proposition, i.e. once you get the treatments you become
effectively impervious to aging, does this necessitate a change in
laws concerning euthanasia and suicide?
(PH): What impact might a world full of retired or semi-retired
travelers have on the cultural makeup of a country? What if people
traveled all over the world and took up residence wherever they
happened to be? How might immigration policies change to
accommodate long-lifed nomads who may live in a place for a decade
or two, then move on? Could these “nomads” vote?
(LY): Can any young people still find jobs if old people live
forever and are in the job force forever? They have more
experience, more knowledge in the field, and probably good
reputation as well? Why would employers ever give young
people a chance? Training is costly. Why even have
(DE): Assume cryogenics has advanced enough that we can
safely freeze and revive a person with no adverse effects to the
body. If a state determines that it is less costly to freeze its
inmates than to house them in prisons, should it be able to?
Should a prisoner be allowed to elect to serve out his term while
(DE): Under what conditions should a state be permitted to revive
a person frozen before death? For example, if a fugitive is
finally found but is cryogenically frozen, should the government
be permitted to thaw the body? If so, for what types of offenses?
What if it was a civil matter?
(DE): Even with advances in DNA and other types of evidence,
undoubtedly many are still wrongfully executed. Could a state
adopt a position that, instead of executing people via lethal
injection and the like, it was instead going to freeze people, so
that there is at least the possibility that a wrongfully convicted
person could someday be revived? What arguments could one make
that execution is actually preferable?
(DE): California Evidence Code §667 states that a person not
heard from in five years is presumed to be dead. How should this
presumption be changed in a world where pre-death cryogenics
became common? Should a person undergoing cryogenic freezing be
required to register with some sort of government agency or third
(PH): As more people decide to extend their lives, will the job
market become tougher for the “legitimate” youth since they are
now competing with a work force that may have hundreds of years of
experience? Will government potentially need to step in to ensure
youth-discrimination not occur?
(PYS) If Alcor breaches its contract, i.e. the company picks up
the body and just throws it in a dumpster, who has standing to
sue? May the patient's heirs sue? Can they sue as third party
beneficiaries, or will they need to sue in tort on a survival
action, or on an emotional distress theory? What if a third party
was counting on a patient's death for some reason, and the company
delays it via cryonics. Cause of action?
Research from past years.
A past year's legal
research by Douglas Oguss
A past year's legal
research by Ada Wong
by Aldo Zilli
by Andrew Holley (pdf)
DE: David Eramian
DF: David Friedman
LY: Linda Yu
PH: Patrick Hensleigh
PYS: Previous Year's
RP: Rick Prasad
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