Life Extension and Cryonic Suspension Issues

Life Extension

(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 children?  

Cryonic Suspension

(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 frozen?

(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 party?

(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?

Legal Research from past years.

A past year's legal research
by Douglas Oguss

A past year's legal research by Ada Wong

research by Aldo Zilli

research by Andrew Holley (pdf)

DE: David Eramian

DF: David Friedman

LY: Linda Yu

PH: Patrick Hensleigh

PYS: Previous Year's Student

RP: Rick Prasad

Table of contents page

Course page

My Home Page