The Instigator
Pro (for)
9 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

DDO Olympics: Science

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Post Voting Period
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after 3 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/20/2014 Category: Science
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 963 times Debate No: 46396
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (3)




Resolution: Without intervention, there is a strong possibility that scientific progress will effectively ‘cure death.’

This debate is about the possibility for a human life not avoiding all biological deaths. Both Con and I agree the preservation of the brain from aspects of the aging process that lead to brain death would be enough to effectively ‘cure death’ and there are options that can possibly prevent this effect of aging. Beyond that we have some disagreement as to what this would mean. I will also assert that sustaining human consciousness indefinitely, without intervention (an explosion etc), would effectively cure death.

By allowing for intervention I am admitting that aggressive regulation, wars etc could prevent any scientific progress and would make this impossible (get it together humans). I am not predicting a time frame but I am arguing that we have gotten to the point that we understand this is a strong possibility.

I have mentioned what I mean by 'cure death' along with a point of disagreement and standard dictionary definitions should apply to any other wording. Looking forward to an interesting debate. First round is for acceptance and the last round is for rebuttals only.



I accept this debate.

Good Luck to my opponent! :)
Debate Round No. 1


I could have better phrased the resolution “ there is a strong possibility that scientific progress will eventually achieve immortality in humans.” First, this isn’t just some scifi meme, there is ongoing research and many promising options to prevent all forms of aging at some point in the future and there are examples in nature of animals that effectively live forever unless they are killed by disease or predators [1].

The aging process

There are many issues that lead to aging and inevitable death such as DNA damage/mutations, tissue damage, senescent cells etc but it the major broad cause is the gradual degeneration of genetic information as expressed in cells throughout the body [3]. All we really need to achieve some kind of biological immortality is some kind of maintenance at the molecular level to correct for ongoing damage. This is simple to say but the research in ongoing.

The aging process and likely solutions

Scientists are already well aware of the major problems associated with aging and there is ongoing research to prevent and reverse the aging process to prevent death. Out of the 7 major factors that lead to aging and death there is a known method available for treatment that can often prevent the process and repair the damage [4]. These often involve the need for more advanced forms of gene therapy as opposed to current drug based methods of treatment.

-Cell loss

Some organs, such as the brain, continually lose cells that are not replaced. In spite of slowing due to ethical objections, stem cell research remains a promising field to prevent degeneration due to cell loss and a method to replace all aging cells in the body [5]. Promising research is ongoing to grow and replace new organs or simply add genetically rejuvenated cells into the failing organs.

In each technique mature cells would be removed from the patients body and altered to restore the lost powers of embryonic stem cells to change into any cell in the body and divide indefinitely leading to a body that could continually regenerate and replace aging cells. Another method to obtain stem cells is to utilize eggs from a doner and fuse them with adult cells from the patient in a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer. These cells are biologically young and free from the damage present in the older cells in a body.

-Cancerous mutations

Mutations and epimutations can accumulate and cause abnormal gene expression leading to cancer and other issues. Cancers rely on lengthening the telomerase, which are long sections of DNA that code for nothing but protect your DNA from the metabolic and other damage [6]. A promising cancer treatment is administering evolving drug therapies that inhibit telomerase targeting the necessary weakness of cancer cells, the need to lengthen the protective telomerase.

A decisive permanent method that would completely eradicate cancer would require doctors to preemptively remove the necessary genes for telomerase completely. This method would also require the cell replacement therapy to transplant genetically engineered stem cells every decade or so similar to the method used to replace lost cells.

-Mitochondrial DNA Damage

Mitochondria l DNA is outside the nucleus and accumulates damage more rapidly than nuclear DNA and this disrupts different tissues and processes [7]. One option is to place copies of Mitochondrial DNA in the nucleus where they are not subject to chemical attack from the many free radicals produced in the mitochondria. If the original genes were damaged by mutation the body would still be able to produce the necessary proteins.

Studies have indicated that the mitochondria previously produced thousands of proteins and evolutionary forces have forced them to relocate in the nucleus confirming the viability of the treatment.

-Protein loss of elasticity

Some cells are created early in life and are rarely or never recycled and degrade over time, some examples are skin and artery walls [8]. The damage to these proteins is a chemical bond called a crosslink. Fortunately these chemical bonds are unique and easy to target there are a couple of methods to sever these bonds and restore elasticity. Current research is directed at enzymes or proteins that will break these bonds.

-Senescent cell build up

Senescent cells are dead cells that reach their limit for cell division or are damaged and shut down [9]. The body has mechanisms to remove these cells but they still build up over time and degrade surrounding tissue and release harmful signals that cause other cells to shut down. There are many techniques in development to assist in removing these cells such as methods to instruct a patient’s immune system to selectively target and destroy these cells.

-The build up of dysfunctional proteins

Over time proteins misfold making them ineffective and collect leading to many problems associated with aging such as Alzheimer's disease[10]. There are two main methods currently in development to address this issue. Particular antibodies can remove these proteins from tissue where they cause harm. Active vaccines can introduce a piece of these proteins to stimulate the immune system to target these proteins. Artificial antibodies can be created outside the body and introduced as a treatment to destroy these proteins and allow the body to process them.

-Build up of waste products within cells

Over time waste products can build up inside cells and prevent their function [11]. A cell structure called the lysome processes waste. The problem is that when the organelle cannot process a waste product it builds up over time damaging the cell.

The problem waste products are already efficiently broken down by bacteria and fungi that decompose dead bodies using enzymes that are not produced by humans. Modified versions of these enzymes delivered by injection would process these problem wastes. Many lysomal disorders that prevent the processing of certain waste products are already treated by injecting modified or missing or dysfunctional enzymes effectively treating these diseases by processing the cell waste confirming the viability of the treatment.

Biological immortality in nature

The problems that plague humanity leading to aging and death do not affect all animals [12]. There is a jellyfish called Turritopsis dohrnii that can live forever by regenerating cells after reproduction. Hydras are a freshwater animal with radial symmetry and are biologically immortal although the mechanism for their survival is not completely understood.

Planarian flatworms can live indefinitely and possibly attributed to their constant telomere regeneration and high production of adult stem cells. These examples confirm that biological immortality is a possibility.


Next round I will try to add some detail and expand on the more promising options for immortality. The mechanisms that cause aging and death are well understood and there are effective strategies that will eventually prevent and even reverse the aging process. With examples in nature we know the prevention of aging and death are possible.
















Thanks to my opponent for his argument.

Since my opponent has not stated otherwise, I will assume that the burden of proof is on him to prove that scientific progress has a high probability of eventually achieving human immortality.
Thus, my role in this debate is mainly to give rebuttals to his points to show that such a feat has a low probability of being achieved.


Now, if we look at the top 10 causes of death in USA [1], we see that eight of them are chronic/terminal illnesses, including -- Heart Disease
-- Stroke
-- Cancer
-- Lung Diseases (Lower Respiratory)
-- Diabetes (type 2)
-- Mental Illnesses (Alzheimer's)

Many of these illnesses aren't caused much by aging at all, and none of these illnesses have any cures thus far [2]. They cannot be ignored when discussing the topic of "curing" death.

The majority of my opponent's arguments deal with (supposed) solutions to natural aging, but very rarely does anyone die of just old age; there is almost always some sort of disease behind it, as shown by the provided statistics.

For this reason, I would argue that the accomplishment of human immortality would necessitate the curing of such widespread diseases, rather than simply the termination of natural aging.

Now, I realize that some of my opponent's anti-aging arguments tie into disease prevention, but as far as I can see, the only time he went into a detailed discussion on that topic was when he talked about the possible cure for cancer involving telomerase inhibition.

However, doing further research into that field reveals that there are several limitations to it as a viable cure for cancer, most notably that it is probably not going to be an efficient treatment due to the nature of telomerase division in cells [3].

Sub-conclusion: a necessary component to "human immortality" would be an immunity or at least surefire cures to the ailments which currently are the major causes of death among humans.


I was planning on giving a rebuttal to each of my opponent's contentions to show why they merely slow down the aging process as opposed to actually stop it.
Unfortunately, due to time constraints this will not be possible, as I literally have 15 minutes left to finish this up.

I will definitely squeeze this section into my next round's argument somehow.


1) The overwhelming majority of human deaths are caused by ailments which are often not really caused by the aging process, and for human immortality to truly be considered achieved, we would have to find cures to such diseases.

2) The supposed solutions to aging merely slow down aging, rather than end it, meaning that they don't really achieve human immortality (to be expanded upon next round)

I apologize for my incomplete argument and hand the debate back over to my opponent.


Debate Round No. 2


Thanks to my opponent for accepting and for the argument. For now I will just leave it for voters to decide how they view the burden of proof. I'd like to point out that I in no way indicated that scientific progress has a “high probability” to achieve human immortality. This wording is making a larger claim than the resolution. Synonyms for the phrase “strong possibility” include fighting chance or even outside chance. I am not making a prediction.


First, I did not say science would achieve immortality for everyone. Con has focused on age related diseases but there is a simple cure for communicable diseases, place someone in a sterile bubble for as long as possible; any medical procedures performed in a sterilized clean room. All I need is one man like this and there is an available cure for this form of death. The patient would not catch a disease until there is some kind of accident or another form of intervention. I am not claiming that those with a genetic disease will live forever so this is outside the scope of the debate but genetic engineering will likely create a generation free of inherited diseases in my opinion.

Heart disease, strokes, cancer, lung disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia along with Alzheimer’s are all age related problems [23] addressed by the broad categories of age related breakdown in my opening argument. Broadly, an immortality strategy seeks to provide maintenance to every problem in the body down to a cellular level, which addresses disease in that they all cause damage that can be accounted for and corrected.

Heart disease –see my section on the build up of waste products within cells

Heart disease (also a stroke) is caused by a build up of cells called macrophages when they cannot process oxidized cholesterol in their lysome [17]. The bloated cells, full of the unprocessed cholesterol, attract other macrophages forming large pockets of plaque that break through arterial walls and block them.

As I mentioned, a promising method to cure this type of problem is the development of enzymes that are already in the works that will be deliver to the body and assist in processing the waste. To resolve this issue all that is needed is some method to prevent oxidized cholesterol build up in macrophages or some method to remove/replace/destroy them.

Cancer- see Cancerous cells

All we really need is a method to target and destroy one type of cell to resolve this problem. A promising treatment I didn’t mention is a cancer vaccine that uses an intercellular bacterium that targets cancerous cells but will not multiply in normal tissues [18].

Con has challenged my suggestions for a cure with out explaining the objection. Saying that others disagree and providing a source does not address the issue.

Lung disease

Broadly, all we need is some means to transfer oxygen to the blood when the lungs fail. I mentioned that there are options to engineer new organs utilizing cutting edge stem cell research. There has recently been success in growing new lung tissue in rats [24] and a process that can make the cells immune to cancer by a deletion of the telomere maintenance sections of DNA. Organ and cell replacement has the potential to correct for any damage to organs caused by disease.

Type 2 diabetes

Like many diseases you do not die of type 2 diabetes directly. You die because of the damage to the body like damage to the kidneys and heart that build up over time. Organs can be replaced and repaired as I have indicated. In addition, type 2 diabetes there is growing evidence that the disease is often a product of obesity, which is preventable [21]. The issue is often a dysfunctional pancreas and could be resolved by an artificial or biological replacement.

Mental Illnesses (Alzheimer's) – see my section on the build up of dysfunctional proteins

Growing knowledge and options to preserve consciousness

This debate does center around aging and I have summarized the broad categories of cellular damage [24] that take place along with promising strategies to prevent and reverse them. We have all this knowledge about the aging process already and we just discovered DNA in the early nineteen hundreds. Knowing that it is possible combined with the exponential growth of knowledge that doubles every 13 months makes curing death inevitable [25].

Artificial intelligence

An advanced, learning artificial intelligence stands to dramatically raise the level of human knowledge beyond anything the human mind is capable of. Interesting enough a company recently developed an AI that can beat CAPCHAS from major companies 90% of the time :(better than my record). Think of the squiggly letters you have to write to prove you are a human when accessing a website. Now AI can accomplish the same task.

Scientists are convinced that they will eventually create a human that can pass the Turing test meaning a robot would be able to carry on a natural conversation and be respond in such a way as to be indistinguishable from a human. That is one step away from an AI that could respond exactly as you do.

Uploading consciousness into a machine

As stipulated by the debate, preventing brain death is enough to constitute a cure for death saving a human life until an accident strikes. This places a high value on consciousness and what is the difference between a brain on life support and the transfer of a human consciousness to a computer? If we can create an exact copy of consciousness that thinks, feels and reacts like the donor than what is the difference?

This is on the horizon as knowledge in neuroscience is doubling every 2 years now. We are learning more about how the brain works and how this combined with an understanding of AI simulated thought will make it a real possibility. Scientists are working to map the brain meaning we will have a complete picture of every detail of neural activity in the brain estimated to be 100 years from now [26].

“We’ve already started down the road toward shedding our corporeality [28].” Some estimate a transfer of a brain into a robot body at 10 years from today and uploading a consciousness 20 years after that. Ray Kurzweil, a transhumanist guru and national inventers hall of fame member, was quoted as saying, “When you talk to a human in 2035, you'll be talking to someone that's a combination of biological and non-biological intelligence,” and, “Artificial intelligence will reach human levels by around 2029. Follow that out further to, say, 2045, we will have multiplied the intelligence, the human biological machine intelligence of our civilization a billion-fold.”

Critics have argued that the time frame is an exaggeration but when intelligence like that eventually is realized we can be sure that human consciousness will not be lost when you die. Curing death in one-way one another is inevitable.

















I am saddened to have to admit that my opponent has convinced me with his arguments.

I now believe that it is possible to end natural aging and cure most chronic diseases, thus achieving human immortality to some extent.
I do not think I can even play devil's advocate at this point.

Thus, unfortunately, I will be conceding the debate to my opponent.

I apologize to my opponent for pre-maturely ending a perfectly good debate which he has evidently put much effort into, and I wish him good luck in the later rounds of the DDOlympics!

Debate Round No. 3


I had a great time researching a topic that I have been curious about for a while. No need to be sad that immortality is a real possibility; thanks for the debate!


Haha! To clarify, I'm happy that human immortality is possible, but bummed about ruining a good debate ;)

I'm glad you enjoyed, though; thank you for accepting my concession.

Good luck!
Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Romanii 2 years ago
@Magic: he said he's bringing it up next round.
Posted by Magic8000 2 years ago
I'm surprised Pro didn't mention mind uploading.
Posted by Romanii 2 years ago
Lol... Yeah, I can relate. My argument's actually going to end up going in much closer to the deadline due to a sudden cropping up of homework.
Posted by 2-D 2 years ago
No rush, I have a lot to do the next couple days. Unfortunately, I just wasted a few hours... damn you internet!
Posted by Romanii 2 years ago
Haha. That's what you think :p
I'll have my argument in sometime tomorrow probably
Posted by 2-D 2 years ago
For some reason I had the impression that transferring your consciousness to a computer was the most likely option and spent too much time reading about that. Turns out Biological immortality is for realz.
Posted by Romanii 2 years ago
Wow! This is gonna be a tough one :)
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Actionsspeak 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Concession
Vote Placed by dtaylor971 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Concession. 2-D also did an amazing job.
Vote Placed by Subutai 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Concession.