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Immortality, would you take it?

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Ray Kurzweil is living healthy so that he can be around in the approximately 20 years it takes for technology to reach the point where it enables humans to live forever.

Excerpts from the full article:

"Kurzweil writes of millions of blood cell-sized robots, which he calls "nanobots," that will keep us forever young by swarming through the body, repairing bones, muscles, arteries and brain cells. Improvements to our genetic coding will be downloaded via the Internet. We won't even need a heart. "

"The claims are fantastic, but Kurzweil is no crank. He's a recipient of the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT prize, which is billed as a sort of Academy Award for inventors, and he won the 1999 National Medal of Technology Award. He has written on the emergence of intelligent machines in publications ranging from Wired to Time magazine. The Christian Science Monitor has called him a "modern Edison." He was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame in 2002. Perhaps the MIT graduate's most famous inventions is the first reading machine for the blind that could read any typeface."

"During a recent interview in his company offices, Kurzweil sipped green tea and spoke of humanity's coming immortality as if it's as good as done. He sees human intelligence not only conquering its biological limits, including death, but completely mastering the natural world."

"Immortality would leave little standing in current society, in which the inevitability of death is foundational to everything from religion to retirement planning. The planet's natural resources would be greatly stressed, and the social order shaken. "

"Kurzweil says he believes new technology will emerge to meet increasing human needs. And he said society will be able to control the advances he predicts as long as it makes decisions openly and democratically, without excessive government interference."

"In my view, we are not another animal, subject to nature's whim," he said.

"His predictions, Kurzweil said, are based on carefully constructed scientific models that have proven accurate. For instance, in his 1990 book, "The Age of Intelligent Machines," Kurzweil predicted the development of a worldwide computer network and of a computer that could beat a chess champion."

This is AWESOME in my mind. I would love to live indefinitely. I love to learn new things and hone my skills. This would allow people to master many different disciplines, applying their talents to areas they may never have considered in a short 60 year career. However, I think I am rare. I have a sample size of 1 who said: "I find it comforting that there is an end, I don't want to live forever". This is one person I had pegged as being open minded to this (not religious, believes it's over when we die, loves life). All the mystic nut-jobs can have their "after-life". Me, give me immortality so I can continue to create!

Full article is here:


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An indefinitely long life is not the same as an immortal life. Immortality implies that one could not die under any circumstances whatsoever. Personally, the idea of living five hundred or a thousand years (or even longer) thrills me, but I think eventually you'd get tired.

It would be nice, though, to be able to live as long as your life continues to be a value.

As for immortality, you can take it if you like, but I won't. Forever is a long, long time . . . I don't think I could handle it.

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I wouldn't want it...not knowing if you're going to be alive tomorrow is what makes life worth living. Brad Pitt gives a good little monologue about it in Troy (even though the movie sucked) about how the gods envy us, because knowing of our own mortality allows us to live each day like it's our last.

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I wouldn't want it...not knowing if you're going to be alive tomorrow is what makes life worth living.  Brad Pitt gives a good little monologue about it in Troy (even though the movie sucked) about how the gods envy us, because knowing of our own mortality allows us to live each day like it's our last.

Have you heard that awful (in my estimation) country song "Live like you were Dying?"

I don't know about anyone else but I don't need to get cancer in order to want to live each day to the fullest. That, and I don't consider mindless activities like taking stupid risks to be living life to the "fullest".

The whole song isn't about that but those few little points make it so jarring that I can't stand it.

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See thread here.

As for immortality, you can take it if you like, but I won't.  Forever is a long, long time . . . I don't think I could handle it.

I don't think I'd necessarily get tired of life... but I would need to keep my choice of life versus death. Suppose I am kidnapped and tortured... would immortality mean I can't kill myself? An eternity of suffering?

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I'm not suggesting that we need cancer or stupid risks to enjoy life.  If you knew you would live forever, how much enjoyment would you really get out of life?

No one would get any enjoyment out of life, because you would no longer be a form of life. Asking yourself to imagine such a state is asking the metaphysically impossible, like trying to imagine a ball that's all red and all green at the same time.

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Life is a process of self-sustaining action. And it must be right action. Always choosing the right action is not guaranteed. The motive for searching for and making the right choice is maintaining and furthering life. If a person knew he was never going to die he would not have a motive to act, and he would have no standard for choosing any values. In what sense would he be alive?

What do you mean by immortal? Can you prove that it is a valid concept?

What do you mean by life?

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Life is a process of self-sustaining action. 

Self-generating, self-sustaining action.

An immortal life by definition would require no sustainence, it would not be "self-sustaining" and thus would not qualify as "life". Hence, an immortal life is a contradiction in terms, much like a "mortal" inanimate object.

That which cannot die is not alive . . . that which is not alive cannot die.

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If this "immortality" is just not dying from old age or disease, I'm assuming you could still die of accident or starvation, so it still requires self-sustaining and self-generated action.

I am not sure I would notice my immortality. I mean, do you wake up in the mornings now and think, "Jeez, is this EVER going to END?? How long have I been doing this life thing, 43 YEARS?" I think it would be the same if the figure was 100 years or 1000 years. Every day is a new day, and to the (healthy) living, it already seems as if we are immortal. So I guess I'd take it! :)

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OK. As Praxus said, it's not really immortality and as others have pointed out, there is still the need to earn a living so that you can eat (the need to engage in self-sustaining action) and travel and enjoy life . It looks like the title was enticing enough to get people to comment though. :)

I think lives extended for 200 or 300 years (or more, just imagine) will give people a chance to explore new things and live life on their terms. Imagine working for 30 years, taking 10 years off to travel or dabble in another hobby (perhaps start a business of your own) or write a novel or get a degree in philosophy. People who get bored or depressed could choose to begin aging again or just end their lives peacefully, on their terms, knowing that they've had the chance to live full lives. Heck, I have a Ph.D. and I still have a world of learning ahead of me!


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It would be a bit risky to 'live forever', as erandror pointed out - I'd definitely want to be able to end my life if I wished to. At the moment I think a lifespan of 500 years would do me fine, but I imagine I'd want to double it when I reached 400.

I think that immortality is certainly impossible if you consider a human, as we know them now, living forever, but there are other ways I could conceive it happening, although it depends on precisely what you mean by immortal. If human cloning/'consciousness-uploading-into-computers' technology were to reach the point where a person could be brought back to life if he died, would this be classed as immortality?

1. The guy is neither a biologist nor a nano-engineer,
A few others have made similar predictions (not immortality, but superlong lifespans). Here's a geneticist from Cambridge talking about the likelihood of people living till 1000.

3. He thinks that drinking 8 to 10 cups of alkaline water and 10 cups of green tea

a day is healthy. The FDA recomends drinking 8 cups of water a day, and most people (if they actually tried to drink that much) would think that's excessive. The guy is obviously a little nutty, regardless of what he's done (think Howard Hughes).

How much is a cup? I drink about 4 litres a day and a few people I know drink 6-8. Edited by Hal
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I don't doubt that life expectancy will rise due to medical progress over the next few decades; but what the first guy was talking about was nanites that could fix every major problem with any organ in the body.  And to have that in 20 to 30 years just isn't realistic.
Well I dont claim to be familiar with the science in question, but I think it's difficult to make predictions with any degree of accuracy when it comes to speculating about technology over that period of time. If I were in 1970 and trying to guess what life would be like in 2005, I think I would have expected us to have had a far higher life expectency than we currently do, but then I wouldnt have guessed the extent to which computers changed the world. Sometimes all it takes is one significant discovery and then the rest come poring in, completely transforming the world in an incredibly short period of time - take what happened in physics during the first 20-30 years of the 20th century for instance. Who could have predicted that? Or the moon landing, 15-20 years before it happened.

As for how much water you drink, do you live in a hot and/or dry climate?  If not, the amount of water you claim to be drinking may in fact be dangerous for you.  Unless you are losing much of that water to the air, you could be at risk for fainting spells and high blood pressure (from the excess amount of blood plasma created, which takes up space without carrying {much} oxygen).

4 litres is fine, and that's generally the recommended minimum for people who take creatine (as I do). I think the volume you need to drink for it to become dangerous is around 10-12 litres a day.

Edited by Hal
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This reminds me of A Picture of Dorian Gray. For those of you who haven't read it, a boy gets a portrait done and wishes that he could forever look as the painting does, and the painting could age. By some way, it happens. He does all these horrible things and nobody believes such a pretty face could do such cruel things. By having his sins show upon the paining, he has no sense of remorse, for nothing really effects his life. Since there are no consequences, he comes to hating his life and kills himself by stabbing the painting. I highly doubt lengthening youth would have these effects on people who don't have serious psychological problems though.

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It's interesting that someone mentioned Tuck Everlasting. (Although I can't figure out what that person is trying to say otherwise.) In the movie, William Hurt's character, commenting on his family's magical inability to die, laments to Winnie, the girl who has discovered them and has learned their incredible secret: "We're like rocks. We just exist."

The film is impressive for how much it gets right. One particularly memorable line, spoken by Hurt, itself ought to be immortalized: "Don't fear death," he urges Winnie: "Fear the unlived life." Tuck and family ought to know.

Man is nothing if not a being in constant process.

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