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Should we seek immortality?

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I once read that, if we could "freeze" our health status at the age of eight, when we have escaped the most lethal diseases of childhood but still do not engage into the degenrative process of adulthood, we could live for centuries and centuries, provided we do not die in an accident. I remember that the estimation for such a lifespan was around 2000 years.

The scientific accuracy of what I read is not the point of the thread.

The point is that, as we understand better the aging process at a cellular and systemic level, we will sooner or later be able to expand our life expectancy to inimaginable periods of time.

Should we strive for a long life?

My immediate answer is yes, as long as that life is the happy life of a rational being.

In principle, I would love to live, say, 500 years and learn many skills, languages, travel to every corner of the world, work for many different companies and run many different businesses, marry many times, read and write books, witness the progress of science, technology and world affairs... who knows, I would like to know about intelligent beings of other planets.

However, when talking about that with friends, all of them tell me they are not so sure about their willingness to live for such a long time. The common denominator is boredom. They believe they could not handle so many days of a life. They are afraid they would run out of motivation, purpose, ideas, projects, dreams.

I would like to ask this forum to think about the idea of seeking immortality, or at least a very long lifespan, from an Objectivist ethics.

According to my limited understanding of Objectivist ethics, we as rational beings take rational life as our standard of value, and to act morally is to take actions that preserve and expand such a rational life.

If within the next 20 years an expensive gene therapy is discovered that can prolongue my life (in a reasonable level of health, independence and productivity) The moral thing to do would be to buy such therapy, even if it entails short-term sacrifice. Giving up the possibility of that therapy would be equivalent of seeking suicide for the sake of boredom. "Life is good, but too much life is a bore"

What do you think?

Edited by Hotu Matua
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Lol. Hotu Matua actually all those things you mentioned wanted to do, you can do in a normal 20C lifespan. But well, I'm in my mid twenties, let think it's possible.

I assume you are familiar with Ray Kurzweil. There's a thread about him from a couple of yuears ago, search for it and you'll see how much some high ranking forumers respect and thank him.

I must confess I was at first attracted to Ayn Rand before knowing about Objectivism, because of a certain sense of Futurism she inspired in me whenever I read her or about her.

I can't imagine a reason why we shouldn't want to expand our lifespans.

About wanting to live forever, I believe humans have been wanting that with awful results for way too long, and it'¡s time to give it up.

It's also time to begin seeing suicide (in the old age) as a happy ending or a success, meaning that you've lived more than you wanted. I also believe that with Rational Laws ending one's life could be an experience akin to how Heaven is described by religiou types, or the very first high by heroin addicts.

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As a pure speculation, I believe that time is so very relative that quality of life will influence a lot in chosing quantity of life. I've been thinking of this for a while, these are some conclusions:

1) Prolongue the life of a human body per se, or mantain all vital organs in optimal condition including the brain?

2) What amount of moral conundrums shall we face and how are they going to be rationalized, if too many live scannings of the human brain are needed to study it thoroughly. Could this gruesome proposition be an answer to the prison problem?

3) If the mind can't be kept as active in the long term, but the body can: will the last 400 years of one's life resemble a slow regression into infancy and ultimately to the semi vegetative state of in utero? Should that be bad, as long as more technology allows for better interfaces brain->life-support-machine?

4) If the mind can be kept active but hte body can't will we end as robots? Should that bebad?

5) In 3 and 4 we face a central issue of Transhumanism: The Mind-Body, or Soft-Hardware gap. In that way it connects with Objectivism directly.

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If within the next 20 years an expensive gene therapy is discovered that can prolongue my life (in a reasonable level of health, independence and productivity) The moral thing to do would be to buy such therapy, even if it entails short-term sacrifice. Giving up the possibility of that therapy would be equivalent of seeking suicide for the sake of boredom. "Life is good, but too much life is a bore"

Yes, that would be a bad argument against it, since boredom is the result of psychological issues, not "too much time and nothing to do with it". The possibilities for exploring the World, and creating within it, are for all intents and purposes endless. Two thousand years would still be far too little to even begin running out of things to do.

I would "sacrifice" quite a lot to try and achieve that, or, better put, any realistic means of achieving a longer life would be very high among my list of priorities. My chosen profession isn't close enough to the fields involved to participate in the research, but I would invest my money in it (or might even try to adapt my skills and help) if I was convinced someone is on a promising track.

I guess, if we're all in agreement that it is moral to seek a longer life through realistic, scientific means, the direction the thread could be expanded in is how much of our time and energy should be spent on looking for those means, and how promising has progress toward them been so far?

#3 reminds me of Chet Flemmings book "If We Can Keep a Severed Head Alive".

Was the Outer Limits episode based on that book? (in the OL episode, the guy is begging to die, but the doctor in charge of keeping him alive has different idea)

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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There are two different questions going on in this thread. One of them is whether or not we would want to extend our lifespan as long as scientifically possible. I think it is rational to do so, as long as our future is not filled with pain or boredom. However, the other question is whether or not we would like to live eternally. This is irrational because when the earth is consumed by the sun billions of years from now, the immortals would still be alive and suffering. They would float aimlessly alone in space for all eternity, incapable of death.

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There are two different questions going on in this thread. One of them is whether or not we would want to extend our lifespan as long as scientifically possible. I think it is rational to do so, as long as our future is not filled with pain or boredom. However, the other question is whether or not we would like to live eternally. This is irrational because when the earth is consumed by the sun billions of years from now, the immortals would still be alive and suffering. They would float aimlessly alone in space for all eternity, incapable of death.

Then live or death become a matter of choice, you don't have to suffer, just kill yourself. If you are a machine, just pull the plug. If you are a program, just uninstall. If you are a organic molecule, you may do so with a little discomfit. If you are an energy being form black hole, your day has come. What is "suffering"? To the mortals its the percent of things that endanger its survival and wellbeing, such threat only exist base on the fact that life is fragile, it is vulnerable to the random fluctuation of matter and energy, forces of nature run amok in this unprofessional universe. If a being is incapable of death, then the forces that can destroy molecules and circuits cannot alter the state of the immortal. Therefore its not a sign of its own end, so why should it suffer and run away from the non-existent danger. If we can become such "immortal" being, it won't take a billion years for us to colonize the galaxy. If we are incapable of death, there is no reason for not outlaw the physics any further, in physics, you break one rule is equivalent to break them all. Incapability of death already smash tons of natural regulation, and in such reality there is no reason to not smash some more in order to get FTL. Actually immorality in its strict sense is irrational, because it contradicts with reality, nothing is incapable of "death" the entropy can turn any system into atoms. What we are talking about here is actually a way to improve our life, not to become a God.

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There are two different questions going on in this thread. One of them is whether or not we would want to extend our lifespan as long as scientifically possible. I think it is rational to do so, as long as our future is not filled with pain or boredom. However, the other question is whether or not we would like to live eternally. This is irrational because when the earth is consumed by the sun billions of years from now, the immortals would still be alive and suffering. They would float aimlessly alone in space for all eternity, incapable of death.

The answer to both your questions is yes. I hope to, and will work towards, surviving until the heat death of the universe (and maybe beyond that, if we can find a way to create our own bubble universes). With even a modest growth rate in technology, we can expect to reasonably colonize the entire Milky Way Galaxy in less than 100 million years, which is less than 10% of the time it would take for Earth to become uncomfortable or uninhabitable due to the expansion of the Sun. It will be trivial to move about the Galaxy at that point. It will be easy for us to simply make new stars, or planets, or huge rotating colonies with gravity, or simply large computers built out of asteroidal material, within enough processing capacity to model whole worlds. It is quite possible that humanity will be able to survive for trillions of years, and if we're lucky, so might some of us posting on this board. I would say that is as close to "living eternally" as one could possibly ask for.

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There are two different questions going on in this thread. One of them is whether or not we would want to extend our lifespan as long as scientifically possible. I think it is rational to do so, as long as our future is not filled with pain or boredom. However, the other question is whether or not we would like to live eternally. This is irrational because when the earth is consumed by the sun billions of years from now, the immortals would still be alive and suffering. They would float aimlessly alone in space for all eternity, incapable of death.

Is it plausible to make a lifeform capable of surviving the death of a star?

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CoolBlueReason seems to be assuming that immortality means indestructibility, whereas others here are assuming the immortals can be killed, but won't age. (And presumably would not die of disease either.)

I read somewhere (sorry I don't remember where) that someone did the actuarial calculations and concluded that if we lived until killed by some sort of accident or murder or what have you, our life expectancies would be about 800 years, on average. If so, someone managing to live 2000 years would be a very successful, careful person!

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CoolBlueReason seems to be assuming that immortality means indestructibility, whereas others here are assuming the immortals can be killed, but won't age. (And presumably would not die of disease either.)

I read somewhere (sorry I don't remember where) that someone did the actuarial calculations and concluded that if we lived until killed by some sort of accident or murder or what have you, our life expectancies would be about 800 years, on average. If so, someone managing to live 2000 years would be a very successful, careful person!

I'm not experienced enough to know the actual mathematics, but the estimation was that based on the accident rate a human incapable of death by aging would have an average life of 800 years. This means an expected variation of a few hundred years, and the difficulty of predicting how behavior might change.

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I suspect that were we to significantly extend our life expectancies, there would be a lot more concern about safety than there is at present; lower and lower levels of risk would be deemed acceptable. (I wouldn't want to try to figure out what kind of damages someone would sue for if their immortal relative had their life ended by some sort of accident! Instead of depriving someone of, say, 30 years more expected lifespan, you've chopped off something theoretically infinite in length.)

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The answer to both your questions is yes. I hope to, and will work towards, surviving until the heat death of the universe (and maybe beyond that, if we can find a way to create our own bubble universes). With even a modest growth rate in technology, we can expect to reasonably colonize the entire Milky Way Galaxy in less than 100 million years, which is less than 10% of the time it would take for Earth to become uncomfortable or uninhabitable due to the expansion of the Sun. It will be trivial to move about the Galaxy at that point. It will be easy for us to simply make new stars, or planets, or huge rotating colonies with gravity, or simply large computers built out of asteroidal material, within enough processing capacity to model whole worlds. It is quite possible that humanity will be able to survive for trillions of years, and if we're lucky, so might some of us posting on this board. I would say that is as close to "living eternally" as one could possibly ask for.

Very well said indeed. Last one to Alpha Centauri is a rotten egg! B)

Edited by Tenzing_Shaw
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  • 2 weeks later...

I invite you to think what a lifespan of, say, 800 years, would imply on things like marriage and memories.

MARRIAGE

I would find exremely unlikely that people would remain married for centuries. Individual preferences, choices and projects would evolve to a degree that would make you and your partnerr to diverge in unpredicted ways. I think people would have a collection of dozens of partners over such a period of time. Sometimes you could go back and retake an old relationship, and then break away and engage in new ones.

MEMORIES

Keeping memories would be vital to preserve your self-recognition. In such long periods of time, you would basically forget who you were 400 years ago. You could not remember even where you lived, what you liked to do, what company you worked for, what was the name of your spouse.

We would save large chunks of our lives in external devices and replay them over and over, dedicating to it a big % of our time.

Or, eventually, we would have neurochips inserted into our brains and "refreshed" or "upgraded" from time to time. A sort of Facebook or our lives inserted in our brain, ready for consult at any time.

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I want to install my brain into some kind machine and avoid that bio mess all together.

I want to have that and a have wireless control of my former body.

However, the other question is whether or not we would like to live eternally. This is irrational because when the earth is consumed by the sun billions of years from now, the immortals would still be alive and suffering. They would float aimlessly alone in space for all eternity, incapable of death.

You:

Goodby cruel world!

Altruist:

Hurr durr, lets create indestructible bodies strap yourself into equally eternal torture machines and watch the paint of Herpity Derp´s picture of Emanuel Kant giving us the finger dry.

Me:

Yea, you go do that, I´ll be in my eternal space ship along with the rest of my eternal friends, in space.

MEMORIES

Keeping memories would be vital to preserve your self-recognition. In such long periods of time, you would basically forget who you were 400 years ago. You could not remember even where you lived, what you liked to do, what company you worked for, what was the name of your spouse.

We would save large chunks of our lives in external devices and replay them over and over, dedicating to it a big % of our time.

Or, eventually, we would have neurochips inserted into our brains and "refreshed" or "upgraded" from time to time. A sort of Facebook or our lives inserted in our brain, ready for consult at any time.

I don't think this would really matter, I don't remember anything from my early childhood only the most important things from a few years ago and have already forgotten a lot of yesterday.

And I don't have the real need or inclination to refresh almost any of it.

Why I don't think I´ll even remember this post a month or so from now.

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