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Sun Apr 20, 2014, 10:48 PM

If human beings develop the ability to live forever, is that good for the species as a whole?

I am watching Morgan Spurlock's show on CNN and he is discussing cutting edge biotechnology that some say someday might make living forever possible. A couple of concerns pop in to my head. If everyone one can live forever, where is the room for the new people going to come from? Or, more likely, it won't be everyone but an elite group of very wealthy people who will become the immortals who have yet another advantage over the rest of us. Think of the trouble the Koch brothers could cause if they lived forever. Yes I know that when they die other Koch-like people will come along. They have always been with us and always will. But an immortal Koch brother would be a super predator version - one that didn't have to learn everything anew. They would be able to accumulate hundreds, or rather infinite, years of personal experience that others didn't, which is quite different that the collective cumulative knowledge we all benefit from. I am just sort of thinking out loud (or as I write) but wouldn't these be problems?

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Reply If human beings develop the ability to live forever, is that good for the species as a whole? (Original post)
arely staircase Apr 2014 OP
MohRokTah Apr 2014 #1
arely staircase Apr 2014 #2
MohRokTah Apr 2014 #4
arely staircase Apr 2014 #7
MohRokTah Apr 2014 #8
arely staircase Apr 2014 #9
piratefish08 Apr 2014 #48
arely staircase Apr 2014 #49
Hip_Flask Apr 2014 #87
IDemo Apr 2014 #3
JaneyVee Apr 2014 #5
Egnever Apr 2014 #12
2naSalit Apr 2014 #6
arely staircase Apr 2014 #14
pintobean Apr 2014 #10
Phlem Apr 2014 #11
Phlem Apr 2014 #16
arely staircase Apr 2014 #17
Phlem Apr 2014 #21
arely staircase Apr 2014 #22
Phlem Apr 2014 #27
Agnosticsherbet Apr 2014 #13
arely staircase Apr 2014 #15
Agnosticsherbet Apr 2014 #20
arely staircase Apr 2014 #33
Humanist_Activist Apr 2014 #18
avebury Apr 2014 #56
Humanist_Activist Apr 2014 #82
Ex Lurker Apr 2014 #19
arely staircase Apr 2014 #24
davekriss Apr 2014 #68
Scootaloo Apr 2014 #23
arely staircase Apr 2014 #26
Anansi1171 Apr 2014 #25
Phlem Apr 2014 #28
longship Apr 2014 #29
Lint Head Apr 2014 #30
flvegan Apr 2014 #31
Rex Apr 2014 #32
lumberjack_jeff Apr 2014 #34
arely staircase Apr 2014 #38
lumberjack_jeff Apr 2014 #74
Vashta Nerada Apr 2014 #35
arely staircase Apr 2014 #40
Vashta Nerada Apr 2014 #41
arely staircase Apr 2014 #43
applegrove Apr 2014 #36
pepperbear Apr 2014 #37
freshwest Apr 2014 #39
Vashta Nerada Apr 2014 #42
arely staircase Apr 2014 #44
randome Apr 2014 #52
chrisa Apr 2014 #70
JI7 Apr 2014 #45
agent46 Apr 2014 #46
KittyWampus Apr 2014 #72
spinbaby Apr 2014 #47
pipi_k Apr 2014 #73
spinbaby Apr 2014 #85
geckosfeet Apr 2014 #50
LWolf Apr 2014 #51
randome Apr 2014 #53
MrScorpio Apr 2014 #54
Nuclear Unicorn Apr 2014 #55
Shankapotomus Apr 2014 #57
Javaman Apr 2014 #58
SheilaT Apr 2014 #59
randome Apr 2014 #69
SheilaT Apr 2014 #77
randome Apr 2014 #78
SheilaT Apr 2014 #84
Prophet 451 Apr 2014 #60
randome Apr 2014 #62
Prophet 451 Apr 2014 #64
randome Apr 2014 #67
Inkfreak Apr 2014 #61
ismnotwasm Apr 2014 #63
Romulox Apr 2014 #65
arely staircase Apr 2014 #66
Romulox Apr 2014 #75
arely staircase Apr 2014 #79
Romulox Apr 2014 #80
arely staircase Apr 2014 #81
Romulox Apr 2014 #86
KittyWampus Apr 2014 #71
FarCenter Apr 2014 #76
Xithras Apr 2014 #83
CreekDog Apr 2014 #88

Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 10:52 PM

1. It would force an exodus to the universe.

Thre would be no other way to proceed other than leaving this rock.

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Response to MohRokTah (Reply #1)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 10:54 PM

2. but what if the biotech way outpaces the live away from earth tech? nt

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Response to arely staircase (Reply #2)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 10:55 PM

4. Then only the rich will have the biotech.

Everybody else would have to die quickly.

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Response to MohRokTah (Reply #4)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 10:57 PM

7. what if it becomes cheap and say every one from the Koch brothers to a school teacher can

afford it? In other words virtually everyone. And all have to live here on Earth. Imagine how crowded this place would be if everyone who ever lived were still alive.

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Response to arely staircase (Reply #7)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 10:58 PM

8. The likes of the Koch brothers would never ever let that happen. eom

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Response to MohRokTah (Reply #8)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 10:59 PM

9. I could see that. nt

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Response to arely staircase (Reply #7)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 07:31 AM

48. the rich have kept 49 of 50 states from having a simple fucking sticky label attached to their food

I'm pretty sure they can keep universe changing technology away from us plebes with no trouble whatsoever.

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Response to piratefish08 (Reply #48)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 07:50 AM

49. +1 nt

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Response to arely staircase (Reply #7)

Tue Apr 22, 2014, 09:48 AM

87. Then we fight it out...

 

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 10:54 PM

3. If the biotech permits living without water or energy, maybe

It would be an ecological catastrophe for the entire human race, or even a segment, to live tremendously long lives.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 10:55 PM

5. Koch bros would raise retirement age to 175.

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Response to JaneyVee (Reply #5)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:00 PM

12. DUzy!

Well played!

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 10:56 PM

6. And what about all the

other species? There would certainly be no place for or tolerance of them. It may well be that the length of life expectancy is already a negative thing.

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #6)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:02 PM

14. good point

and it definitely is a negative thing in one way. we have the ability already to live way beyond our ability to live well. my grandfather made it to 94. he had a really good 85 years then almost a hole decade of shittiness. but my dad went at 64, so I guess I would take my granddad's experience over my dad's.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:00 PM

10. Forever is a myth.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:00 PM

11. It will be "Logan's Run"



-p

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Response to Phlem (Reply #11)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:03 PM

16. This isn't the first time this has come up and it won't be the last.

We just need to quit bickering amongst ourselves, end capitalism, and work on populating other planets. So.........soon, No?

-p

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Response to Phlem (Reply #11)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:03 PM

17. it would be a reverse logan's run

all babies killed in the crib and forced sterilization.

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Response to arely staircase (Reply #17)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:23 PM

21. Well that I don't know.

I would think the rich would prefer a youthful worker population than geriatrics.



-p

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Response to Phlem (Reply #21)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:28 PM

22. well we would live forever by not aging (regenerating parts both internal and external as they break

down) so everyone would be youthful.

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Response to arely staircase (Reply #22)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:34 PM

27. True.

I guess the cost might take a generation or less to decrease from only billionaires can afford it to every house but...

Hmm....

I don't think I like where this is heading.



-p

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:00 PM

13. That would end human evolution,

and would require some very drastic changes in human culture and civilization.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #13)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:02 PM

15. yeah, like outlawing the having of children nt

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Response to arely staircase (Reply #15)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:14 PM

20. Potential immortality is not the same thing as actual immortality.

So there would be some small losses due to accidents that would require a low planned replacement population.

But living forever brings a lot bigger problems than stopping runaway overpopulation, which is actually easy. What kind of economic system would be suitable to a population of immortals? Who is going to be happy growing food for thousands of years? What happens when forever after becomes a real problem? Marriage as we conceive it will cease to exist if you have to wake up to the next person for ten thousand years. What happens when the mind reaches an end to its ability to remember. We do not have infinite memory capacity. Do we store memories on a backup drive that will kick in when we meet a former husband or wife from five thousand years ago.

Civilizations, themselves, have a life span. Thousands of civilizations have been born, flourished, and died in the last ten thousand years. What concept of civilization will arise when humans outlive any culture or civilization we create?

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #20)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 12:23 AM

33. all very good points nt

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:04 PM

18. A couple of issues, first off, I don't think it will be easy, for one, we don't have a sustainable..

economy as it is living 30+ years longer than we did a century ago in an industrial society. We will have to expand beyond Earth at some point, unless we are willing to "cull" our population. Climate Change, resource strain, and starvation will be the biggest factors here. Within the next century or two, if I were to take a guess. Unless we find a much more productive, less land intensive and less destructive ways to grow food and produce energy on Earth, we will have no choice but to find a way to do those things in space.

I don't think having us live to be a thousand years old will make much of a difference in the short run, beyond psychological. If the elites only have access to such technology, then it will lead to a further strain between them and the rest of humanity, likely leading to a bloody revolution.

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Response to Humanist_Activist (Reply #18)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 08:27 AM

56. "We will have to expand beyond Earth at some point, unless we are willing to "cull" our population."

An interesting assessment. Human hunts might replace animal hunts as the animals are killed into extinction. Gotta give those gun owners something to shoot at.

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Response to avebury (Reply #56)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 01:43 PM

82. It is really going to depend on how much damage climate change will do to our...

ability to grow food. With desertification and topsoil degradation becoming issues, we may not be able to grow as much food in 50 years than we do now, yet the population of the planet is supposed to increase by an additional 50% in that same time period.

This can be avoided in various ways, one is to find a way to recapture the CO2 in the atmosphere and sequester or use it in a way that doesn't emit more greenhouse gases. This would reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and hopefully stabilize the climate. Another is to grow unconventional food sources in places such as the ocean, algae, kelp, etc. could become staples. Another, more expensive proposition would be building in situ orbiting farming stations in space, removed from Earth's climate troubles, they can be built as greenhouses with ideal environments for crops. The practicality of such a proposal is, at best, untested.

I don't think culling would be as you describe though, more like a lottery, where everyone is forced to participate and those who draw the shorter straws will be marked for death. Either that, or it will be set by age, like in Logan's Run. Or, we don't do an active "cull" at all but allow people to starve to death, like in the Irish potato famine.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:09 PM

19. We will upload our conciousness the cloud

No resources necessary but electricity, which can come from solar power or fusion, and silicon for the microchips.

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Response to Ex Lurker (Reply #19)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:29 PM

24. mine is on one of these

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Response to Ex Lurker (Reply #19)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 10:25 AM

68. That's nice, you'll create a replica

And that replica will get to move on without you, living its life uniquely it's own.

You on the other hand are inseparably stuck in the space and time you occupy, your consciousness occupying one of billions of "still points of the turning world".

Eventually consciousness will fade, the light flickers out, and you will be as you were before you were born. Not even a nothing. No awareness there to be aware of the replica you created that moves on in its unique space/time, it's own still point in the world without you in it.

There is no happy escape from what you and I are. Enjoy it while it lasts...

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:28 PM

23. Ever seen Zardoz?

yeah, it has a plot. And that's pretty much it.

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Response to Scootaloo (Reply #23)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:31 PM

26. yes

sean connery future dystopia and a diaper like outfit and they go into a giant head and it has something to do with the wizard of oz. I saw it a million years ago and that is all I remember.

edited to say, not exactly a diaper



edited again to say, that is how I imagine it going now that I read up on it.

In a future post-apocalypse Earth (2293) the human population is divided into the immortal 'Eternals' and mortal 'Brutals'. The Brutals live in a wasteland, growing food for the Eternals, who live apart in 'the Vortex', leading a luxurious but aimless existence on the grounds of a country estate. The connection between the two groups is through Brutal Exterminators, who kill and terrorize other "Brutals" at the orders of a huge flying stone head called Zardoz, which supplies them with weapons in exchange for the food they collect. Zed (Connery), a Brutal Exterminator, hides aboard Zardoz during one trip, temporarily "killing" its Eternal operator-creator Arthur Frayn (Niall Buggy).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zardoz

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:31 PM

25. Nice to see intelligent conversations about transhumanism in this forum-nt.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:37 PM

28. Awesome thread arely, Kick and Rec!



-p

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:46 PM

29. Somebody's reading too much Aubrey de Grey, or maybe Ray Kurzweil.

At least de Grey is doing some science. Meanwhile Kurzweil is inside some sort of a Matrix wet dream he calls The Singularity.

Bah!

On the other hand, your post is right on target, if such things exist. It would be people like the Kochs who would have access.

Have you considered a cloned Koch world? At least everybody would agree. But then who would polish my shoes every morning? Or maybe that would be done by the forced singularity robots.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:49 PM

30. Well. That ends the reason to have sex for giving birth.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:54 PM

31. On so many levels, no.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Sun Apr 20, 2014, 11:57 PM

32. Yeah but then people will start to worry about being eternal and what not.

Something will always pop up to worry those that Have.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 12:39 AM

34. After looking up "forever" in the dictionary. I'd say yes.

In fact, it'd be the best possible prognosis for the species.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #34)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 12:52 AM

38. so what if we have that ability before the ability to manage resourses differently

or live elsewhere (away from earth.)?

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Response to arely staircase (Reply #38)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 10:59 AM

74. Implicit in "developing the ability to live forever" is managing resources.

"forever" is a long time. Enough time that someday you won't be burning oil left by decomposed dinosaurs, but 21st century people.

Human bodies are furnaces. They burn out in time. The only way humans can live forever is if the consciousness isn't locked into an organic body. A computer has a different set of resource needs.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 12:41 AM

35. If I'm going to live "forever", I may as well be a Time Lord.

 

Give me two hearts, unlimited regenerations, and a TARDIS and I'll be happy.

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Response to Vashta Nerada (Reply #35)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 12:57 AM

40. i totally do not get the reference

I haven't been into a sci-fi movie or tv show since star trek. this star trek

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Response to arely staircase (Reply #40)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 12:58 AM

41. Doctor Who.

 

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Response to Vashta Nerada (Reply #41)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 01:03 AM

43. ah, thanks

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 12:42 AM

36. Well not everyone could live forever. That would quickly

Make for 15 Billion people on the planet. So scarcity would have to be created in who got to live. I'm sure the Koch brothers would want wealth or money to be the deciding factor. That way they and all their descendants could live forever. Democrats would probably say a lottery would be the best way to decide. I would think social merit would be the way to choose who gets to live forever: nobel peace prize winners, writers, scientists and community leaders should get to live forever. And I hear you that we used to be guarantied one thing about the world's biggest assholes: that they would pass away at some point in a 70 year span. But not the future if they do find a way to stop the ageing process. And that is the scariest thing of all.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 12:52 AM

37. I would think that we might have to stop procreating for a little while. n/t

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 12:53 AM

39. Saw a video of a seminar with Michio Kaku and others discussing transhumanism.

The young people watching it were ecstatic. I posted about this some time back. My conclusions were that democracy would be replaced by a technocracy. Most of us will have no say whatsoever.

Carl Sagan predicted the dumbing down of people with the same result. We hate too easliy, we run with the crowd and bark like other dogs without looking ahead to what we are doing on a deeper level.

Our future may be like
Aldous Huxley's vision or a combination the Brave New World and 1984 for the uneducated with a different existance for the elite. A chasm that cannot be breached as we have the opportunity to do now.

Except in this scenario, instead of people being designated to lower classes in vitro, we have media doing the same job. IMO, the anti-science and the anti-intellectual media and cultural forces are driving a creation of a biologically stagnant underclass without the technology. And those going on the path relish the alleged liberty and freedom they envision coming.

Pollution and the hoarding of wealth serve to create a crisis average people could have diminished, but they are rushing headlong due to ego to overcome others. The rightwingers will control the means of reproduction to create commodities, no frills needed conception and no education involved for the receptacles.

As far as the knowledge of the centuries being held by a small group, this was already done by those who learned early in history how fickle, vicious and immature human beings can be. They organized to stay alive in the middle of some things they did not cause, but later may have sought to cause things to eliminate those they consider dangerous to them and to life on Earth.

The elite have tried in less forceful ways to convince mankind to do the right thing at times in history, perhaps. And they have given up on the masses of people seeing what they do with the advantages given to them to expand their lives. If we see nothing but evil in them, we are not looking at our own, not being honest.

The RW is on the path to creating this hell and are diverting our attention and encouraging us to fight each other. And it's our fault if we fall for it, not theirs. We are not that stupid yet.

We know better but refuse to grasp the reality of how the powerful has met our demands. Instead we hate them for giving us what we asked for in our ignorance. They are not gods, neither are they omipotent and teasing us with candy like children. But I believe they have given up on us and are now retrenching to survive.

It's very offensive for me to say this, but we are not totally innocent in this.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 01:01 AM

42. I've been giving this some more thought

 

and would our brains be able to handle immortality? Would living forever eventually lead us to go crazy? Would we forget things that happened 100, 200, 300, 1,000 years in the past? Would we forget who we are as an individual?

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Response to Vashta Nerada (Reply #42)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 01:05 AM

44. no. memory space wouldn't handle it. nt

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Response to Vashta Nerada (Reply #42)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 08:12 AM

52. Easy enough to handle.

Simply wipe your surface memories every 1000 years, leaving only the base personality.

“If you're not committed to anything, you're just taking up space.”
Gregory Peck, Mirage (1965)

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Response to Vashta Nerada (Reply #42)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 10:39 AM

70. My assumption would be that our mind would abridge our memories.

We would remember the barebones details if what happened long ago, or just totally forget. We would remember who we were, but would be a much different person that far into the future.

Assuming biological immortality and a way to grow organs, including our brains, we would probably technically be a different person after every 200 years, as our original organs would have gone bad over time, including our brain.

It's a philosophical question of sorts - if you rebuild someone entirely, are they the same person? Even if you can transfer memories over, is that really the same person?

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 01:17 AM

45. no

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 02:04 AM

46. Zardoz

If you've never seen it, the classic John Boorman film, Zardoz is thoughtful meditation on the questions you raise here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zardoz

Personally, I think it's unlikely a person living many hundreds of years would persist in their mortal behavior patterns for very long. They would more likely drift apart from the human race as they accumulated experience and considered greater possibilities. I also think many of them would eventually choose suicide.

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Response to agent46 (Reply #46)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 10:47 AM

72. Thanks for your recommendation (haven't seen that movie). And thanks also for your thoughtful post.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 07:22 AM

47. From Isaac Asimov

I can't find the exact quote at the moment but he said something like: If we didn't die there would be no room for children, and who would want to live without children?

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Response to spinbaby (Reply #47)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 10:59 AM

73. Ummm....

After being stuck at Easter dinner yesterday between a yowling, teething infant and a screeching, hitting, kicking 3 year old who had nothing but Easter candy for lunch and NO NAP, I think my answer to that question would probably piss off a lot of people.



Even though I'm a mom and grandma myself.




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Response to pipi_k (Reply #73)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 06:09 PM

85. LOL

They are a trial, aren't they? But for all the aggravation, I would not have wanted my life without them.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 08:05 AM

50. Frankly - I don't think it is anything to be concerned about.

But it does raise a related issue. The virtually unlimited medical care and procedures that the elite super rich have access to, compared to the difficulties many poor and working people have to basic affordable health care.

Inequality.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 08:09 AM

51. Not unless it comes with sterility. nt

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 08:14 AM

53. Immortality would be like the alien invasion we've always imagined would unite us.

People will be much more conscious about planetary resources if they know they will end up suffering for not taking care of them.

"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."
Leonard Cohen, Anthem (1992)

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 08:17 AM

54. Never mind the fact that this movie starred Justin Timberlake...

But in IN TIME, they explore that question:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1637688/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_5

The problem, of course was that everyone's life-cycles were commoditized, and there was a huge division between the long-living rich and the poor, whose lives were on a short leash.

I would hazard that this is exactly the kind of thing that would happen if such technology ever comes into existence.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 08:20 AM

55. Would it be good for petty, greedy, malicious, backbiting, lying, violent beings to live forever?

Mortality is a blessing.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 08:31 AM

57. People will still be able to die from accidents

And the more time you live plus the more people alive, the more chance that has of happening. So, although we will probably see an uptick in the longevity of life spans, we will probably see a directly proportional uptick uptick in deaths by accident.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 08:45 AM

58. we would become a nation of old people with no one to yell at regarding our lawns. nt

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 08:48 AM

59. Immortality aside, even a greatly

extended life span would not be a good thing. Even without the environmental and overcrowding problems that would occur. And even assuming that extended life would be cheaply and easily available to all, or at least to a significant percentage, and that we'd stop aging at some "good" age. You can decide for yourself your best age.

To begin with, there's an underlying problem of the fact that the human body ages. I'm sixty-five, and I'm quite astonished at how many of my age mates have serious health problems, from chronic diseases to things like back or joint problems that stem for wear and tear on the body over the years. Then there are accidents. Sometimes you, or a body part, never fully recovers from some sort of damage. Think professional athletes.

But the other, and to me far greater factor, is that scientific and social development (and especially the former) happens only with a new influx of ideas. From new, younger people. Many, maybe most, great scientists do their best work when rather young. Even the great Einstein got fixed in his thinking as he got older and didn't accept the new ideas in physics. The very fact that we aren't a particularly long-lived species is perhaps the very reason we've made the amazing technological progress we have in our relatively short history.

The problem of memory has already been pointed out.

Science fiction has already dealt with the possibility of greatly extended life span in various stories and novels. Naturally I can't recall any titles, although Robert Heinlein had a family that was apparently immortal in several of his books.

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Response to SheilaT (Reply #59)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 10:27 AM

69. Science fiction is...fiction.

Wipe your surface memories every thousand years. Problem solved.

True immortality likely means body repair, too. Problem solved.

Accidents happen. Not a problem, it's something that happens today.

Environment? People would be less likely to trash their own planetary resources. Problem solved.

Population? Same thing. Breeding in excess means more strain on your own resources. Problem solved.

Everything is a satellite to some other thing.

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Response to randome (Reply #69)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 11:05 AM

77. Fiction is often a good way to explore ideas.

Wipe surface memories every thousand years? So all of a sudden you remember nothing at all? How would the memory wipe work?

I think the notion of body repair is in the realm of fantasy. That's just my opinion and I'm far, far from an expert here.

What makes you think very long-lived people would be less likely to trash their own planetary resources? Because we've done such a good job of it as our average life spans have gotten longer? Or at what point in a very long life would that happen? When a significant number of people are 200? 300? A thousand years old?

We are currently and collectively already breeding to excess. Haven't noticed that problem being solved yet.

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Response to SheilaT (Reply #77)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 11:16 AM

78. I really think mortality plays into the notion of "Let someone else deal with it."

We don't have the expectation that we'll need to deal with our mistakes. But given vastly improved lifespans, I think that would change. At what chronological age that would change, of course I don't know. But eventually I think we'd reach the point where taking care of planetary resources has a direct connection to self-interest.

Surface memories means leaving your base personality intact. You'd be the same person but without the knowledge of where you lived, who you loved, that sort of thing. Similar to 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'. That's pure speculation on my part but it seems like an easy way to cope with the sci-fi idea that immortals are basically strung out and eternally looking for distraction.

As for eternal love? Well, society would be quickly and drastically transformed with true longevity. I would think the concept of being with the same person for thousands of years would no longer be valid.

No squirrels were harmed in the making of this post. Yet.

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Response to randome (Reply #78)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 03:07 PM

84. But wouldn't you think that people would care enough

already about their children and grandchildren to keep things clean?

How long would it actually take for the genuine understanding of immortality (or even a very, very long lifespan) to take hold? I think that an essential aspect of being human is the short-term outlook that most of us have.

And to have no memory of my past? Creepy. There are already people like that, those who can't form any long term memories, and for them life is an eternal now that often leaves them puzzled as to what exactly is going on. Of course, if you're suggesting simply a memory wipe where you then start acquiring memories again, that would be quite different.

Perhaps the way a very long life would affect memory would be, as some others have already suggested, that we'd eventually no longer recall the most distant memories, those more than a hundred or so years earlier. But I think it would be quite bizarre to know I simply cannot remember some earlier time in my life. I do happen to be someone who remembers a lot of my past, to the point where others are often surprised at how much I remember, and I'm surprised that they don't recall things.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 08:49 AM

60. Couple of possibilities

Firstly, by the time this becomes a viable proposition, we will hopefully have developed the capacity to either travel to or teraform viable offworld populations. Of course, the tecnology will only be available to the rich at first. What that happens, certain adjustments are going to have to be made. For example, most people are going to have to be primarily vegetarian. We've learned how to vat-grow meat but, even with that, meat is going to be a fairly rare luxury, a "treat food" that we have perhaps once a month (and we might be better off for that). Water is going to become a pressing concern, especially if we don't get a handle on global warming right fucking now.

What I think will happen rather sooner is the ability to upload the mind into electronic form. The average human mind is estimated to be about 2.5 petabytes (a petabyte is a million gig). That sounds like a lot but storage capacity increases all the time. Back when I finished university (the first time) in 1999, a gig was considered a huge hard drive. These days, my pc alone is 5 terrabytes. We're already developing the technology to electronically read people's minds (Prof Stephen Hawking is working with teams researching this as insurance against him becoming "locked in") and I think that we'll hit a point, probably within the next twenty years, certainly before we hit the Technological Singularity, that we will be able to upload the brain into the electronic cloud, achieving a form of immortality that way.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #60)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 08:59 AM

62. That is, indeed, a 'form' of immortality.

It's still a copy of the original individual. Better than nothing, of course, but not the same thing as vastly increased life spans.

"If you're bored then you're boring." -Harvey Danger

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Response to randome (Reply #62)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 09:06 AM

64. Well, that's an interesting philosophical question

If I upload a copy of my personality that has my experiences, my hopes and drives, even my mental illnesses, can we then declare it as a lesser being?

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #64)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 10:22 AM

67. I would not consider that to be a lesser being.

It would be another you until such a time as individual experiences of both 'yous' begin to diverge and result in different personalities.

Always back your mind up. You never know when you might suffer a 'mind crash'.

Everything is a satellite to some other thing.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 08:58 AM

61. It would suck

Cause there's a lot of assholes out there...of the republican persuasion.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 09:02 AM

63. No

With immortality comes a whole host of social issues that human beings aren't mature enough to deal with.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 09:08 AM

65. The young are *already* treated the worst in our society--by far. nt

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Response to Romulox (Reply #65)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 10:09 AM

66. disagree

I would take high school over a nursing home any day.

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Response to arely staircase (Reply #66)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 11:03 AM

75. That's mother nature you have a complaint with. I'm speaking of government policies. nt

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Response to Romulox (Reply #75)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 12:22 PM

79. I am also speaking of society and how it treats each group

and again I will take the average high school over the average nursing home. granted teenagers think they are greatly put upon but most of them have it easier thwn they ever will. As far as governmet policies go I think the most unfair thing for young people is the cost of college and the absurdity of the student loan system. But again Inhad rather deal with that than try to live off SS.

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Response to arely staircase (Reply #79)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 12:43 PM

80. The most powerful group decides how we are all treated. That isn't the young. nt

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Response to Romulox (Reply #80)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 01:18 PM

81. no. but still say the young have it the easiest in virtually

any society.

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Response to arely staircase (Reply #81)

Tue Apr 22, 2014, 09:38 AM

86. The young are *by far* the most likely to live in poverty here in the US. You are simply wrong. nt

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 10:43 AM

71. We already do live forever… we just change bodies every 65 years or so. Like a hermit crab

changes shells. Like a rider gets out of the train upon reaching their destination.

Humanity's problem is it over-identifies with the physical body and petty self to the detriment of our psyches and the Greater Good.

There is an immense benefit to changing bodies every so often. The hardships in being born and growing up repeatedly give us a chance to build psychic muscle and evolve as individuals.

I think if masses of people who weren't ready were given access to physical immortality there are maybe two paths:

-become very stunted and hunt for ever greater measures of entertainment and shock value
-become finally sick of physical gratification and move on towards greater spiritual growth

Of the two- I suspect most people would end up seeking greater physical fulfillment.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 11:04 AM

76. Accidents, suicide, homicide, wars, etc., would solve the problem

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 02:23 PM

83. Long lifespans are possible, but true immortality isn't and will never be.

Let's assume that you could replace failing body parts, end cancer and strokes, and other common maladies.

Let's look at what is left:
1. Over a 75 year lifespan, the odds of dying from an infectious or parasitic disease are around 25%. These will NEVER be eliminated by medical science because we are in an evolutionary competition with these lifeforms. We block them, and they evolve to counter it. With a 25% chance of dying every 75 years, the odds of any individual surviving for more than a few centuries are rather small. This is especially true when you factor in mass plagues...they are an eventuality, and if you're immortal, you WILL be around to live through the next one. And the one after that. And the one after that. How lucky do you feel?

2. But if you do survive infection, you'll have to be careful to avoid accidental deaths. Every year just under 10% of deaths are attributable to accidents and other random events beyond the control of the deceased. Car accidents, falling off ladders and down stairs, drownings, house fires, accidental poisoning, war, random street crimes, etc. Stretch your lifespan out to forever and your chances of "getting out alive" drop considerably.

3. And let's not forget famine. Every single square inch of the planet has experienced human-killing famine at some point or another. Live long enough and the odds of your corner of the planet experiencing one are somewhere around 100%.

4. But let's say that you manage to avoid all these things. You lock yourself in a safe box with no disease and an unlimited food source. What then? Well, the cost of technology makes it pretty clear that "immortality" isn't a gift that could be shared by everyone. Live long enough and you'll get to watch the human race evolve into something "else". Something that is probably going to look at you the same way we look at Neanderthals...a quaint relic from their evolutionary past. Will they respect you? More importantly, will they continue to allow you to access the technology you need to stay alive? Will their religious or social belief systems continue to support your right to immortality? That's a question that will have to be asked again and again each generation, and they only have to say no ONCE for you to die.

So what happens if you survive all that? Well, you'll get to live a long time, but not forever. In spite of our best efforts, increasing solar radiation will eventually cause carbon sequestering rates to increase beyond a sustainable level. Within the next 200 million years the atmospheric carbon dioxide percentage will begin to drop and plants will begin to struggle to maintain photosynthesis. 500-600 million years from now it will cross a threshold where carbon fixation in most plants is no longer possible, and most plant life will die off. Some evergreen conifers may live a few hundred million years beyond that, but increasing solar radiation will ALSO increase the planets average atmospheric temperature beyond the point where those plants can survive. If you're still around at that point, you'll probably wish that you weren't. In all probability, that's when your exceptionally long, exceptionally lucky lifespan will end.

Many people, of course, point to the stars and say "So I'll leave the Earth!", with sci fi visions in their heads. This isn't realistic for several reasons. First, we have yet to find any indication that planets exist that are capable of supporting human life. Second, there is NO science that supports the idea of "warp speed", so you're going to be making any space trips on slow subluminal spacecraft that will take centuries or millennia (or longer) to reach their destinations. These ships will be mind bogglingly expensive to build, and no government is going to build them because they offer no benefit to the Earth or earthbound nations. Only the very rich have any chance of getting onboard. Third, even if you do manage to overcome points one and two, you're still going to have to deal with the above conditions, because they are also going to play out on any new planets you colonize. At best, you're buying time.

It's possible for humans to achieve exceptionally long lifespans. But immortality, a true immortality in which you will never experience death, is an unachievable fiction.

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Response to arely staircase (Original post)

Fri Apr 25, 2014, 07:26 AM

88. depends which ones end up living forever

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