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Arguing for Immortality (vincentwoo.com)
59 points by akanet on May 3, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 89 comments



I noticed a lot of people confuse "realistic" immortality (which is presumably achievable through advances in medicine, but does not imply an infinite life span - only a very very long one and the absence of mortal disease) with forced (mandatory) immortality (which means you are sentenced to live forever, you can't die no matter what you do).

I am perpetually surprised how few people realize that only the first kind can be discussed rationally, while the second kind is at best a purely theoretical hypothesis.

So you start talking with them about realistic, scientifically achievable, immortality, and you end up answering arguments against mandatory immortality. WTH?

This is probably a topic that does not lend itself to rational discourse, kind of like politics or sex. Most people create this coping mechanism to enable them to deal with the prospect of their own demise, and end up unconsciously hostile to the idea of immortality.


My take:

http://www.fightaging.org/archives/2011/05/merits-of-the-gun...

"Even discussion of the platonic ideal of immortality is, I think, useful provocation against the backdrop of advancing biotechnology that will be able to extend the human lifespan significantly in decades to come. Those advances won't happen by themselves: people need to work on them, support them, and demand them. An economy of longevity-enhancing biotechnology must arise, and for that there needs to be - at a minimum - a whole lot more people talking and thinking about the prospects."

Whatever sins are committed in the post are absolved by merit of generating a Hacker News discussion in which people are once again reminded that the biotechnology train is coming - and the opportunities it presents are immense.


> I am perpetually surprised how few people realize that only the first kind can be discussed rationally, while the second kind is at best a purely theoretical hypothesis.

Depends on how you define the immortal part. For example, my disk drive can't be immortal, but with proper care, the data contained on it can be.

Does data-dumped me count as immortality? I think it should. If you eliminate all the wacky religious stuff people believe in (though I assume most HN'ers are atheist), aren't we just big biological stores of information?

If so, "you can't die no matter what you do" is essentially true, in that you could be restored from a recent backup -- the same way as when a hard drive fails.


> Does data-dumped me count as immortality? I think it should.

It depends on what consciousness ultimately is.

Even if consciousness goes with the data, this "wet" instance of it has still gone through death irreversibly.


My reasoning is that if I can convince someone that even unrealistic immortality is desirable, the rest falls into place. Realistic immortality is also sort of more boring to argue about. Sorry, please don't hate me.


> Realistic immortality is also sort of more boring to argue about.

Not necessarily. People seem to find talking about health care rewarding in some way, and that falls in the immortality discussion spectrum, I think.

> Sorry, please don't hate me.

You're going to make an awful immortal if you spend eternity worrying whether people will hate you or not.


I disagree. Personally, I would say no to the unrealistic version, wherein I have no escape clause, every time. I simply value the negative what ifs too strongly negative for it to be a rational wager. However, rationally speaking, the only way you can say no to the realistic version is if you're Catholic or otherwise have a strong (in your own mind) reason to be unwilling to commit suicide. Or if you have some reason you want to be old and decrepit, I guess.


> So you start talking with them about realistic, scientifically achievable, immortality, and you end up answering arguments against mandatory immortality. WTH?

In a society in which life-extending practices are widespread and accepted, an intentional "failure to take your medication" could be tantamount to suicide. Most governments don't currently support a person's right to choose to die, often acting to prevent suicide and (admittedly, inconsistently) bringing legal prosecution for the performance of euthanasia.

Granted, it isn't the same thing, but it suggests that consideration of "fantastic immortality" might bring insight into the ramifications of more realistic life-extending procedures.


How many governments today will punish people for failing to take their medicine? Usually they go with some bizarre double-think law where killing yourself is forbidden, but passively allowing yourself to die is fine.

Of course, even if someone passed a mandatory life extension law, it would be easy enough to get around if someone decided that it was time to die. Someone in good health who's actually serious about suicide is hard to stop, considering how many things are lethal.


" Most people create this coping mechanism to enable them to deal with the prospect of their own demise, and end up unconsciously hostile to the idea of immortality."

bingo.


Talking about the extremes of things - such as this - is a useful way of thinking about the subject.

After all, physicists posit perfectly spherical cows in a vacuum, why can't we posit something at the end of the spectrum of possibility?


The astrophysics version of the joke is funnier, but perhaps only if you're an astrophysicist.

"A farmer is having trouble with the milk production of his cows, and winds up engaging an astrophysicist to write a report. Three weeks later, he opens the report to find it begins: 'Let us consider a spherically symmetric cow, emitting milk equally in all directions..."


Death cleans out old ideas. I have a hard time getting over the feeling that an older civilization is also more conservative. Especially a civilization where the people with money and power are the ones who are older.

"Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent, it clears out the old to make way for the new." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd_ptbiPoXM


Once again I defer to an alternate version of Harry Potter:

"Uh huh," Harry said. "See, there's this little thing called cognitive dissonance, or in plainer English, sour grapes. If people were hit on the heads with truncheons once a month, and no one could do anything about it, pretty soon there'd be all sorts of philosophers, pretending to be wise as you put it, who found all sorts of amazing benefits to being hit on the head with a truncheon once a month. Like, it makes you tougher, or it makes you happier on the days when you're not getting hit with a truncheon. But if you went up to someone who wasn't getting hit, and you asked them if they wanted to start, in exchange for those amazing benefits, they'd say no. And if you didn't have to die, if you came from somewhere that no one had ever even heard of death, and I suggested to you that it would be an amazing wonderful great idea for people to get wrinkled and old and eventually cease to exist, why, you'd have me hauled right off to a lunatic asylum!

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5782108/39/Harry_Potter_and_the_...


the thing about Eliezer's rather snide take on cognitive dissonance is it doesn't really address the issue at hand.

people dying does clear out old ideas. the leopard doesn't change his shorts.

or at the very _least_ you could make an argument that people can be changed, that old hard-line racists can be won over, instead of claiming that any idiot who thinks immortality might have its seamy side is just displaying 'cognitive dissonance.'

labeling arguments 'cognitive dissonance' ought to be a fallacy all its own. it says "I won't tell you what arguments defeat your argument; you're just being irrational."


Yes, there are benefits to aging. One of those benefits is that old ideas will go away faster. Another benefit is that it will slightly reduce population growth. People who want indefinite lifespan do not disagree with these points. We simply think that these benefits are not worth the destruction of 150,000 human beings per day.

Replace "aging" with anything else that kills people (malaria, AIDS, cancer, etc) and people want to fix it. The only difference between those diseases and aging is that aging kills many more, since we all get it.


My only point is that the labeling of "cognitive dissonance" does _not_ an argument make. The points both you and SkyMarshall make are great arguments--but they should be addressed to yesbabyyes, not to me.

And they should be made in _place_ of any reference to cognitive dissonance.


>people dying does clear out old ideas. the leopard doesn't change his shorts.

First, that's not necessarily true. Old ideas persist across generations even today. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Taoism, Buddhism, etc. etc.

Second, new ideas are not necessarily valuable anyway. Having just moved to the SF Bay Area, let new age religions and whatnot be exhibit #1. There's something to be said for passing the test of time.

Third, your implicit assumption is that immortality would then prevent old ideas from being cleared out, which is not necessarily the case. The reason why older people 'cling' to old ideas is that as we age our neural pathways become calcified along current paths and connections, making it more difficult to change our minds about something. If aging were inhibited, presumably that problem would be one of the ones solved as well, so people's minds would remain as agile and flexible as they were in young adulthood, indefinitely, and hence able to change and adapt new ideas.


The reason why older people 'cling' to old ideas is that as we age our neural pathways become calcified along current paths and connections, making it more difficult to change our minds about something. If aging were inhibited, presumably that problem would be one of the ones solved as well, so people's minds would remain as agile and flexible as they were in young adulthood, indefinitely, and hence able to change and adapt new ideas.

That's quite a leap of faith, IMO. It might be so that clinging to old ideas is a chemical "problem", or it might be how the brain works.

When studying other people, I come to the understanding that around 30 years of age, many people have decided on an ideology, decided which music they enjoy, what food they like, and many other interests. When presented with new information which might require change in that internal model, many people seem to ignore the new information rather than changing their model, because changing our internal model is hard, and it becomes harder the more elaborate our model of the world is. So, the older we get, the more elaborate our models, and the more reluctant to change we grow.

I'm know people are different - I am fighting this kind of stagnation in my mind every day - but I'm not convinced that the people who are most likely to become immortal are the ones that are the least prone to stagnation. I'm afraid it's quite the opposite.


>That's quite a leap of faith, IMO.

From the studies I've read, I believe it's common knowledge now in Neuroscience. IANANS, though, maybe one can weigh in here...

>It might be so that clinging to old ideas is a chemical "problem", or it might be how the brain works.

Same difference, imho. The brain is a chemical machine.

>When studying other people, I come to the understanding that around 30 years of age, many people have decided on an ideology, decided which music they enjoy, what food they like, and many other interests. When presented with new information which might require change in that internal model, many people seem to ignore the new information rather than changing their model, because changing our internal model is hard, and it becomes harder the more elaborate our model of the world is. So, the older we get, the more elaborate our models, and the more reluctant to change we grow.

You just described the process I'm referring to, and there's a neurochemical explanation for it.

>I'm know people are different - I am fighting this kind of stagnation in my mind every day - but I'm not convinced that the people who are most likely to become immortal are the ones that are the least prone to stagnation. I'm afraid it's quite the opposite.

I think those most likely to 'become' immortal are whoever receives the treatment, drugs, genetic therapy, whatever form the implementation takes, regardless of how prone to stagnation or any other affliction they are.


It's possible that older people are more conservative because they are going to die sooner. If everyone was suddenly immortal, old people might start acting quite differently.


I'm pretty sure the benefits would outweigh any perceived drawbacks:

1. Like elves in Tolkien's works, people who can only die by disease or by being slain might be much more careful about starting wars that could kill them (politicians probably wouldn't, but those who have to do the fighting might).

2. Imagine a world where the Einsteins, Hawkings, etc. don't die just as they've come to master their field, but continue contributing for centuries.

3. Would the saying "Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it" still hold? Would we keep making many of the same mistakes over and over, or would our longer term memory and experience allow us to better avoid them?


1. Yes. They might. The thing is, the politicians are much more likely to be immortal than the soldiers.

2. Yes, I agree that would be pretty sweet. Einstein was conservative too, though. It seems to me he refused to accept quantum physics because of a stagnating mind. I might be totally wrong.

3. I think we might become better at avoiding to repeat bad choices. I also think a lot of the people in their 20s who think immortality is just great underestimates the changes it would entail to human culture.


1. Interesting. They certainly might be more careful. But then another (bored?) group of people may develop warrior's mindset. Given infinite lifespan, these guys might invent very destructive weapons, so ‘careful people’ may not have a chance against them.

Immortality would really complicate things.


Robert Mugabe, forever.


I guess I've been too brief in my reply, but no one has addressed the elephant in the room.

"Revolutions" in Libya and Egypt we saw recently aren't frequent occurrences.

Many dictators in history have stayed in power until the day they died. Yet, they are some of the people most able to afford "immortality".

Previously, if you had a very evil and capable dictator, the populace suffers his rule for at most half a dozen decades.


Would you be willing to set off a tactical nuke in Harare if you knew it would kill Mugabe? Let's say you predict the nuke will kill 1,000,000 people.

150,000 human beings die every day. About 100,000 of those are age-related. No dictator can hold a candle to that. Dropping that nuke is equivalent to delaying a cure for aging by 10 days. And yet you want to delay a cure indefinitely? That would condemn billions to the grave.


   And yet you want to delay a cure indefinitely?
I did not say that. See goblin89's comment.


I have a hard time getting over the feeling that an older civilization is also more conservative.

I'd assume most conservatism would die with the generation which rejects longevity. Those who embrace it are more likely to be interested in human progress and advancement.


Or they are more likely to be interested in keeping their privileged positions. I fear few things more than a ruling class that never dies.


Given an infinite lifespan, you'll probably figure out how to change your mind better.


well become better at coping


I like the inductive argument.

How much do you hope to die in this coming year? (Definitely / A bit / Not at all?)

Living this past year, did it make you less fond of life? Do you really expect people slightly older than you will not reply 'not at all'?

The same people who don't want to live forever, I bet we'll find they are perpetually in favor of living 'a bit longer.'


Philosophy of mind can progress, and the immortal can keep up with newly born and educated mortals for a while. Having a few immortals running around is probably not a bad idea, actually, because stores of experience in the form of really old people would be able to give excellent advice.

The problem that I foresee is that eventually, philosophy of mind and new schools of thought just won't be able to keep up with the Flynn effect. I've read things that my grandfather and great-grandfather wrote, and while they were not stupid men, they were certainly simpler than my cousins and I. Eventually, the immortal Homo Sapiens would make for an interesting pet at best.


If an immortal committed themselves to a lifetime (!!) of learning and improvement on the side (though not so much that all you do is learn), I suspect you could eliminate the Flynn effect. I personally believe if our ancestors were simpler folk, it's only because they learned less.

The most important upside, assuming it can be managed of course, is that continually keeping an immortal up to speed requires less resources than bringing a newborn up to speed.


Have you considered that perhaps you're simply smarter than your grandfather and great-grandfather, regardless of the Flynn effect?

Ancient history is full of geniuses - and that's people that had the opportunity to use their minds. I'm willing to be a thousand Einstein-equivalents died every year as slaves on galleys, thralls on a farm, and footmen in war. The Flynn effect is still pretty new - it might only hold for recent times.


" interesting pet at best " ?


nice downvote... how about an explanation?? this quote is fodder.


Someone (not I) downvoted you presumably because you didn't indicate what was your issue with the quoted material. Do you want a clarification? Do you disagree? Do you think it was a typo? Are you offended?

A sole question mark does not content make.


ah, ( i guess ) theres nothing substantiating why these humans would be "pets"

is this presuming that we all get Alzheimers? That theres a cap in mental capacity? ??


Related:

http://www.fightaging.org/archives/2010/08/twenty-minutes-to...

"If you only had 20 minutes, what would you do to convince an intelligent (college educated or professional) audience of the significance of life extension beyond 120 years?"


[deleted]


> Luckily, there is no need to convince anyone at all, except maybe to get research grants (but the true purpose of those can always be disguised as ethically clean basic medical research).

There would be many orders of magnitude more funding for life-extension research if most people wanted it. In fact, probably 90% of our health funding would be devoted to it. So I think it is a very bad thing that people generally don't want it (or think they don't want it).


Exactly so.

The primary killers in the Western world are cancer and heart disease, and very few people argue with the billions of dollars in annual funding that these diseases receive.

What is often overlooked is that these are both fundamentally diseases of aging. Research in to retarding aging could easily have the highest ROI (where R is measured in the addition of years of healthy lifespan) of any avenue of research, yet it receives almost none because of societal bias that views it as fringe.


Yes. Also consider that the long-term fiscal crisis in the US is due almost entirely to promised Medicare and Social Security benefits, which are required because the elderly generally can't be as economically productive and are expensive to keep alive. Cure aging, and the need for those programs is greatly reduced.


Neat, wish I had seen this sooner.


It’s a bit of a spoiler to post it here, but Nick Bostrom’s “The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant” (Journal of Medical Ethics, 2005, Vol. 31, No. 5) is the single most influential essay that I have ever read. It completely changed how I think of aging.

http://www.nickbostrom.com/fable/dragon.html


Three words: exponential population growth.

As much as I'd like to be immortal myself, it might not be a sustainable pattern for us as a species. And if I were around for thousands of years or more, suddenly long-term sustainability of civilization gains a good deal more urgency. It seems likely that affordable immortality would degenerate into a vicious war of all against all, unless it were paired with a Kardashev-II level of efficiency with energy and resources (and possibly even then).

(I'm actually with Kurzweil on this one: when consciousness becomes mere information, easily backed up and transferred to other substrates, the concept of mortality will lose meaning.)


What happens if somebody puts you in a barrel full of concrete and dumps the barrel in the bottom of the ocean? Or worse, blasts you off into space? Given an immortal lifespan, it seems inevitable that someone would at some point do this to you. For this reason I wouldn't take perfect immortality. Immortality plus teleportation would work, though.


Aren't we already immortal?

See, two possibilities exist.

1 There's no life after death:

You don't exist before or after your life.[1] You only perceive anything during your lifespan. Since you can't perceive anything before or after, your life is infinite for you. Because when it ends, there would be no you to notice.

Of course, such immortality ain't about prolonged lifespan, but it doesn't make it less cool (just maybe slightly off-topic here?).

2 There is life after death:

Then you won't die as such, period.

So the only problems left with are the inconveniences of aging.

I'd like to hear some critique on this, though; the idea seems too bulletproof to me, I don't like it.

---

[1] It may be impossible to correctly imagine the condition when there is no yourself, mainly because there would be no yourself in this situation (some kind of catch-22 here).


Assign variable X to be the number of years you have been alive, at least to your subjective experience.

An immortal will see X go to infinity. A mortal will see it go into the three digits if they're lucky. The fact that you can't perceive your own death doesn't mean you don't die.


You're right, it isn't about living longer. It's about our cognitive abilities, perhaps.

Using your metaphor… I think, variable X is going to infinity _in both cases_. It's just that we operate in an environment where the infinity equals to what is a finite number (two or three digit integer) in another system.

Another way to put this: One can't experience anything except one's life. Therefore, life is infinite to person's subjective experience (the only experience available).

EDIT: Okay, I think I see where we disagree. In my view, while what you perceive may not be the "reality" in some absolute sense, it is the only reality for you nevertheless. And your death doesn't exist there, much like dragons or wizards. In short, yes, the fact that you can't perceive your own death means that you don't die. You seem to have different point of view.


Is your claim that mortality is indistinguishable from immortality? Here is a simple counterexample:

An immortal can count (by ones, out loud) from 1 to a googol. A mortal cannot.


One of the ideas I like to explore when presented with the idea of immortality are the effects of a longer lifespan on our decisions. To me, our lives aren't long enough to really live with the effects of our actions. My optimism makes me think, "If we could extend our lifespan by, say, one hundred years, then people will grub much less for near-term pleasure and focus much longer term" (thus we would start investing more in programs which might guarantee our standard of living instead of leaving it to the next generation).

I just wanted to throw this thought at the HN community -- let us know your thoughts!


This would eventually get to be true, but it would probably take a stupidly long time: it won't happen until people have actually seen the long term results of things multiple times.

Also, short-term thinking is fairly hardwired into humans. That won't go away until it somehow stops people from getting laid, which is amazingly unlikely and would certainly require more than indefinite lifespan.


Isn't immortality physically impossible due to the 2nd law of thermodynamics?

Sure, we can live for a much, much longer time. But, "long" is relative, mostly based on what we expect. I.e. now we believe living 80 years is a long time, whereas centuries ago 40 may have seemed a long time.

What I'm saying is that surviving until heat death may seem long now, but that's only because it is currently impossible. Such "immortality" may seem very short if we could actually do it.

A similar situation is people who always complain they don't have enough money no matter how much they make.


Freeman Dyson's got some ideas about how some type of life could keep going for an arbitrarily long time even in an universe undergoing heat death: http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/dyson_ad/dyson_ad_index.html


Immortality = an eternity of learning. If you love to learn, the benefit is obvious.

However, I think a lot of the arguments "against" immortality are perhaps expressed out of subconscious fears of what damage immortality, presumably acquired via money or privilege, would do to society. If everyone had it that's one thing (and still a problem but at least everyone has the same stakes). But what about the more likely scenario that not everyone has it? What if only minority have it?


My name means Immortal in Sanskrit. :)

If no one ever died, the world would overpopulate even faster. Death makes life possible. Death clears the old to make way for the new. In Hinduism and Buddhism, accepting death is a part of the path to enlightenment. Personally, I believe the body can die, but consciousness cannot...so we are already immortal, we just have to re-member it.


If no one ever died, the world would overpopulate even faster.

If nobody ever died, the whole concept of procreation would change profoundly. With first world countries already in zero or negative population growth, creating an infinite lifespan would most likely further that trend.

And in any case, we're talking about longevity, not immortality. You can still get hit by a bus.


Doubtful. I envision a "brave new world" styled world. Bunch of people in prime condition, "endless" amount of time to pair with everyone else. I somehow imagine that people will continue to go at it like rabbits.


In Brave New World, contraceptive implants are mandatory, and there's a huge stigma around /not/ having an abortion.

The stigma around childbirth is a little scary to think about. But all things considered, I think that a society would adapt to limit births by some means if we achieved clinical immortality.

And there are plenty of means to limit birth without stopping sex. Just asking people to sterilize themselves would probably be sufficient, especially since recombinant cloning actually is at least a reasonable thing to talk about with current technology. (Sterilization doesn't mean you can't ever have kids, just that it's going to cost you a fair amount, and you will have a lot of paperwork to do.) The concept of clinical immortality, in contrast, hasn't really advanced beyond the legend of the "fountain of youth."


It's also usually possible to reverse some forms of sterilization. Vasectomy reversal, for example, has a high success rate and is minimally invasive.


Well, luckily, your imagination and actual worldwide trends don't line up.

As long as we push for women's rights, access to birth control and abortion rights, and move away from economies which encourage large families as sources of labor, we'll be fine, as has already been the case in much of the developed world (and is showing to be the case in the developing world as well).


If we were immortal, the need to "extend" ourselves through kids would also decrease dramatically. People (especially women) feel the need to have a kid after a certain age because they are afraid they will be too old if they do it too late. If you lived 1000 years, would you still be in a hurry to have a kid at 30? It's a natural instinct for humans to want to pass their genes to someone else before they approach death (and leave enough time to care for them, too).

Also, about a century ago people thought we would face terrible overpopulation by now, due to limited ground space for buildings homes. That's before we learned we could make apartment buildings.

Don't think of the future 100 years from now, with the eyes from 2011. You don't know what conditions might be created by then to allow for increased population. Humans tend to find solutions for everything, especially when approaching a huge crisis.


the possibility of super long lives happens to have really interesting social repercussions ... I see no reason why after but a single generation this idea of popping kids out pre 30 wouldnt just go away


The idea would not go away, but there is a lot of strong evidence that it would diminish significantly. Two hundred years ago an average woman in the US would have had 7-8 live births by the time she was 30, a hundred years ago it was 3.5, and today it is around 2. Better birth control and better options for how women want to live their lives can explain a large part of the second drop, but the drop from 1800-1900 was almost completely because of increasing lifespans and increasing standards of living. The change would not happen in a single generation, but just observing what happens as countries transition out of third-world poverty over the last fifty years has provided a lot of justification for claiming that it would not take too many generations for birth rates to adjust quite radically.


as soon as you can tell a girl: " you've got the option to have healthy kids at age 200 and you're probably going to live to be 1000", and the gravity of that sinks in...

Enormous cascading effects, and comparing these possibility to past events ... im sorry the scale simply pales in comparison.


> overpopulate

Overpopulation is an idea based on scarcity. The technologies which enable immortality will also work to overcome scarcity.


All I meant...more people living longer will consume more for longer time and add stress to an already stressed planet. Immortality is always theoretical, forever is a really long time.


I don't consider myself a Mathusian... in fact I regularly use him as a strawman/punching bag when I'm flexing my poli-sci historical muscles over beer.

But the experiment has never been conducted with an immortal population, either, and his dire predictions seem a bit weightier with a bunch of 750-year-olds running around.


There are people modeling the demographics in a rigorous way, however:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20426616

"A common objection against starting a large-scale biomedical war on aging is the fear of catastrophic population consequences (overpopulation). This fear is only exacerbated by the fact that no detailed demographic projections for radical life extension scenario have been conducted so far. This study explores different demographic scenarios and population projections, in order to clarify what could be the demographic consequences of a successful biomedical war on aging. A general conclusion of this study is that population changes are surprisingly slow in their response to a dramatic life extension. For example, we applied the cohort-component method of population projections to 2005 Swedish population for several scenarios of life extension and a fertility schedule observed in 2005. Even for very long 100-year projection horizon, with the most radical life extension scenario (assuming no aging at all after age 60), the total population increases by 22% only (from 9.1 to 11.0 million). Moreover, if some members of society reject to use new anti-aging technologies for some religious or any other reasons (inconvenience, non-compliance, fear of side effects, costs, etc.), then the total population size may even decrease over time. Thus, even in the case of the most radical life extension scenario, population growth could be relatively slow and may not necessarily lead to overpopulation. Therefore, the real concerns should be placed not on the threat of catastrophic population consequences (overpopulation), but rather on such potential obstacles to a success of biomedical war on aging, as scientific, organizational, and financial limitations."


I chose not to address societal implications of immortality not because they're not fascinating or relevant, but because people's immediate objections almost never have to do with "what happens to everyone else?"

That said I think the population will definitely level out when people realize they have literally forever to have kids and that infinite children are actually a total pain in the ass to care for.


Well, you could also let people choose between the two options: 1. Live forever + not allowed to have kids 2. Have kids and you are not allowed the wonder drug

Of course, since I have already had kids I would want there to be an amnesty :-)


his dire predictions seem a bit weightier with a bunch of 750-year-olds running around.

Not if those 750 year olds are in no hurry to have kids.


They wouldn't have to be in a hurry, they'd just have to be interested - if everybody has one kid at 150 years old, that's still 50% population growth per year when it stabilizes.

It's certainly possible that much of the impetus driving us to want children stems from our own mortality, so maybe many people wouldn't want kids after long life became the norm. Or, maybe the psychological imperative would decline enough that some sort of lottery system would actually be acceptable.


And where do you think technology and resource creation and allocation will be in 750 years?


the big question: " Do we believe this to happen eventually" ... if so, why not within our lifetimes?


"Why not within our lifetimes"

As things stand right now:

1. Funding for science is appallingly low 2. Many of the best minds go into banking, management consulting and law

Making this happen within our lifetimes needs prompt ACTION.


Incidentally, even partial progress within our current life expectancies can extend our lifetimes, perhaps enough for more progress to be made which will extend our lifetimes more, and so on. This gives longevity research more runway, which is nice.


degreys "longevity escape velocity"


The biggest argument against immortality is that your chance of ending up in eternal pain goes way up. There are countless scenarios where you end up stuck in the bottom of the ocean, in a cave, maybe in jail, forever and ever.


Seems like it'd get pretty boring after the heat death of the universe.


I agree with everything except for one thing, under disaster scenarios, its not so much a risk that the human race will go extinct as a guarantee. The heat death of the universe is coming.


Before I clicked the "about me" link I guessed this was written by someone in his 20s. I was right.


Kudos for your correct prediction, but if these same arguments were made by someone in their late 40's, would that change their truth value?


Meh, live hard, have fun and then die so the next generation has their turn.


Death and life are fluid points, not black-and-white absolutes as some like to see them.

Then only thing that could distinguish me from a rock is self-awareness.

One can argue that self-awareness is enjoyable but he is merely repeating words of gurus who achieved self-awareness. Without the slightest realization of what they are actually saying. In reality, self-awareness requires introspective meditation and there is nothing harder than to sit still for long periods of time without external stimuli. Just like it's easier to code in VB than to subject yourself to abstract concepts of LISP.

Most people who consider themselves "alive" are more like imperative biocomputers, programmed for a specific task by educational system. One part of their programming is repeating to everyone "I'm alive". I'm sorry, but most people are coded in Visual Basic whereas only some in LISP.


As much as I dislike the phrase... "Obligatory XKCD": http://xkcd.com/610/

I'm pretty sure most people think the same way. It's a rather solipsistic view, isn't it?


Actually, I'm not truly conscious either. I think self-awareness is like love or a perfect circle, or a perfect line.. an idea that can never be achieved in reality.

PS. I am particularly half-conscious since I woke up five minutes ago :))




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