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This article is the third in a series about using technology to overcome the most primal challenges to humanity: disease, aging, and death. In Part 1, we looked at the Avatar Project and the people who are actively trying to promote indefinite life extension. In Part 2, we looked at the history of the idea that “the mind is a machine.” In this conclusion we examine some of the social consequences of a society where our robot bodies put us beyond disease and aging.

Humanity’s history is a story of self-creation: the harnessing of technology not simply to control our environment, but to re-imagine what it means to be human. Chilean evolutionary biologist Humberto Maturana coined the term autopoiesis--literally “self-creation”--to describe the fundamental property of what it means to be alive. In his 1996 book Social Systems, systems theorist Niklas Luhmann talked about the social and cultural process of second-order autopoiesis: when life looks at itself, and deliberately reimagines its own being.

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